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A.  M.  D.  G. 

Smsa's  iOihrary 










Statue  of  the  Saint  in  St.  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi's  i Italian  )  Church, 




St.  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi 


*  -•* 


Compiled  by  the  REV.  PLACIDO  FABRINI 




je  ji  ji 

Translated  from  the  Florentine   Edition   of    J852 
and  Published  by  the 


REV.  ANTONIO  ISOLERI,  Miss.  Ap.       £ 

Rector  of  the  new  St.  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi's  Italian  Church,  Philadelphia,  Pa.,  U.3^4 


Enriched  with  New  Illustrations  together  with  the  Reproduction 
of  those  in  the  Original  Work 

Jl  Jl  Jl 




J.  F.  LOUGHLIN,  D.  D., 

Censor  Librorum. 


*  P.  J.  RYAN, 

Archiepiscopus  Philadelphiensis. 

PHILADELPHIA,  iij  Non.  Martii,  1900. 




o  tfie  tfien  modest  and  amiaSfe  Soy, 

tfie  dear  friend  of  fas  youtfi  in  Savonaf 

tfie  faitKfnf  S)iscipfe  of  St.  Vincent  de  $aut9 

tfie  devoted  Son  of  St.    (fosepn  Cafasantius, 

tfie  zeabus  $isnop  of  &ontremoG, 


raised  to  tfie  J^rcfiiepiscopaf  See  of  St.  Jjnionine 

in  tile  no6[e  city  of  ^Florence, 
c&fRere  our  great  and  glorious  Carmefite  Saint 

c&as  Born,  Cived,  and  died, 

and  Wnere  fier  sacred  Remains,  stiff  incorrupt^ 

are  venerated, 

tKis  fflor^ 

is  respectfutty  and  affect  ionatefy  dedicated 
6y  tfie  translator, 

ntonlo  I?olepi. 




•^&-~£i'  ' 

*/&-*  -- 


-A)  <,/ 


7)      Q 

-;£^J>   Z/s  '  *?* 






-^^-0  J^. 



(Rev.  Antonio  Isoleri,  Ap.  Miss., 

Rector  of  the  New  St.  M.  M.  De-Pazzfs  Italian  Church, 

710  Montrose  {formerly  Marriott )  Street,  Philadelphia,  Pa. ,  U.  S.  A. 

Yen.  and  (Dearest  Friend  : 

I  return  endless  thanks  to  you  for 

your  loving  thought  of  dedicating  to  me  your  translation  of  the 
"Life  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  (De-fpazzi." 

(By  this  new  token  of  good=will  not  only  do  you  tighten  the 
sweet  bonds  of  the  old  friendship  which  bind  me  to  you,  but  you 
compel  me  from  henceforth  to  address  special  prayers  to  the 
Seraphic  Florentine  Virgin,  that  she  may  bless  and  prosper 
your  apostolic  labors  in  that  Italian  Church  dedicated  to  her 
glorious  name. 

This  I  shall  do  with  a  sense  of  gratitude,  and,  prostrated 
at  the  altar  where  the  Saint,  among  the  lilies  and  the  roses, 
seems  still  to  rest  in  the  arms  of  the  angels  after  one  of  her 
paradisiacal  ecstasies,  I  will  beseech  her  to  smile  upon  you  from 
heaven,  to  protect  those  people  who  venerate  and  love  her  so 
much,  and  to  embalm,  with  the  perfume  of  her  virtues,  the 
hearts  of  all,  enamoring  all  of  Jesus  Christ. 

And  these  very  pious  but  poor  (Religious,  so  often  relieved  in 
their  poverty  by  the  generous  charity  of  (Rev.  A.  Isoleri,  will 
unite  with  me  in  prayers  and  good  wishes  and  will  obtain 
for  you,  from  the  Lord,  a  very  ample  reward. 

Whilst  wishing  you  every  heavenly  blessing,  I  again 
tender  to  you  the  most  lively  thanks  for  the  undeserved  honor 
you  are  doing  me,  and  I  again  declare  myself,  with  sentiments 
of  loving  esteem, 

Your  most  devoted 


Florence,  March  ist,  igoo. 


I  undertake  the  translation  of  "  The  Life  and  Works  of  St.  Mary 
Magdalen  De-Pazzi,"  by  the  Rev.  Placid o  Fabrini,  for  the  honor  of  God 
and  of  his  servant,  St.  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi ;  and,  chiefly,  to  obtain, 
through  her  intercession,  two  graces — one  of  which  is,  that  I  may  be 
able  to  build  a  new  church  under  her  invocation,  to  replace  the  present 
one,  which  is  old,  small,  and  poorly  constructed.1 

May  the  necessary  light  and  strength  be  given  to  me,  so  that  I 
shall  succeed  in  accomplishing  what  I  now  begin  in  the  name  of  the 
Father,  and  of  the  Son,  and  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  Amen. 

With  all  but  a  certainty  of  not  being  able  to  do  full  justice  to  the 
original,  and  without  reflecting  on  the  judgment  of  translators  and 
publishers,  or  calling  their  taste  into  question,  and  much  less  with 
a  view  to  making  comparisons  between  Saints,  but  mindful  only  of 
A  Kempis'  advice :  "  Noli  etiam  inquirere  nee  disputare  de  meritis 
Sanctorum,  quis  alio  sit  sanctior,  aut  quis  major  fuerit  in  regno  co3lo- 
rum"  (L/ib.  iii,  cap.  Iviii,  2) — "Do  not  inquire  nor  dispute  about  the 
merits  of  the  Saints,  which  of  them  is  more  holy  than  the  other,  or 
which  is  the  greater  in  the  kingdom  of  heaven;" — I  may  be  allowed 
to  state  here  that  many  Lives  of  Saints/ have  of  late  been  translated  from 
the  Italian  and  other  languages  into  English,  and  published  in  this 
country,  which  are  not  half  so  interesting  or  edifying  as,  I  confidently 
hope,  this  will  be  found  to  be,  not  only  by  Religious,  but  by  all  Christians. 

Once  for  all,  I  beg  an  indulgent  judgment  of  this  translation  and 
its  poor  English,  in  view  of  the  good  object  and  the  good  will  employed 
to  secure  it.  The  original  is  certainly  grand ;  and,  did  we  but  know 
that  another  pen  was,  or  soon  would  be,  at  work  translating  it,  we 
would  immediately  drop  our  own,  thank  the  Lord,  and  repent  of  our 

1  The  work  of  building  the  new  church,  a  new  parochial  house,  and  a  school, 
together  with  the  constantly  increasing  work  imposed  by  the   extraordinary  tide  of 
immigration,  compelled  the  interruption  of  this  translation  for  several  years  ;  whilst  what 
was  done  of  it  could  only  be  done  now  and  then,  at  long  intervals.     The  church  having 
been  completed — one  of  the  graces  asked— we  have  endeavored  to  complete  the  work 
and  publish  it,  in  fulfillment  of  our  intention  and  vow.     (1898.) 

2  And,  had  the  magnificent  edition  of  "The  Life  and  Ecstasies  of  St.  M.  M.  De-P." 
by  the  Sisters  of  her  Order  and  Monastery,  come  out  sooner,  we  would,  without  doubt, 
have  given  it  the  preference.     It  was  issued,  Florence,  1893. 



We  earnestly  hope  that  persons  living  in  the  world — Protestants 
as  well  as  Catholics — besides  Religious,  will  read  this  Life,  because  we 
are  firmly  convinced  that  it  will  do  all  of  them  some  good.  They  will 
find  in  it  much  to  admire,  much  to  edify  them.  There  is  something 
for  all  to  imitate.  Through  it,  our  dissenting  brethren  will  know  our 
religion  better,  and,  let  us  hope,  like  it  more.  Who  knows,  but  that 
such  a  grand  tableau  of  Catholic  sanctity  as  is  presented  to  them  in  the 
Life  of  St.  M.  M.  De-P.,  who  lived  at  a  time  when  "  the  utter  degeneracy 
and  corruption"  of  the  Catholic  Church  was  so  loudly  proclaimed  and 
made  a  by-word  and  a  pretext  for  a  notable  and  noble  part  of  Catholic 
Europe  to  separate  from  her  bosom,  may  not  only  win  their  admiration, 
but  also  draw  them  into  the  fold,  to  become,  as  their  forefathers  were, 
children  of  that  Church  which  alone  is  the  Mother  of  Saints,  which 
alone  can  lead  them  to  salvation  ;  so  that  they,  one  day,  may  sing  with 
us :  u  Quam  dilecta  tabernacula  tua,  Domine  virtutum !  concupiscit  et 
deficit  anima  mea  in  atria  Domini" — "  How  lovely  are  thy  tabernacles, 
O  Lord  of  Hosts !  my  soul  longeth  and  fainteth  for  the  courts  of  the 
Lord  "  (Ps.  Ixxxiii). 


Rector  of  St.  M.  M.  De.PSs  Italian  Church. 
PHILADELPHIA,  July  ist,  1881. 


In  consequence  of  many  requests  for  the  "  Life  of  St.  Mary  Mag 
dalen  De-Pazzi,"  which  could  not  be  met  on  account  of  the  scarcity  of 
copies  still  extant,1  the  importance  of  supplying  this  want  was  felt  by 
many,  and  some  were  about  to  have  another  edition  issued,  when,  being 
spoken  to  by  one  of  them,  I,  though  the  least  skilled  in  the  literary 
art,  very  gladly  undertook  with  all  possible  speed  to  write  a  work  so 
dear  to  my  heart. 

Repeating  faithfully  all  that  is  believed  to  have  been  done  by  the 
Saint,  gathering  all  that  the  writers  of  her  life  said  that  is  interesting, 
and  bringing  to  light  unedited  documents,  with  notes  for  their  better 
understanding,  I  hope  to  have  satisfied  the  desire  not  only  of  devout 
persons,  but  of  those  who  will  value  this  as  an  historical  work. 

I  will  say,  moreover,  that,  as  all  the  lives  of  Saints  embrace  two 
parts — the  one  that  we  may  imitate  and  the  other  admire — therefore 
their  publication  tends  principally  to  produce  these  two  relative  effects, 
the  second  of  which  is  a  consequence  of  the  first.  If  we  read  them 
without  having  in  us  at  least  a  portion  of  that  foundation  from  which 
they  were  reared  to  the  apex  of  virtue,  the  wonderful  part  especially 
will  become  for  us  the  mysterious  volume  under  seal  which  human 
wisdom  will  try  to  penetrate  in  vain.  Here  is  the  school  of  the  Gospel, 
here  is  the  science  of  God ;  and,  to  profit  by  it,  one  must  approach  it 
with  a  humble  and  pure  heart.  The  proud  and  worldly  man  finds  in 
it  all  impossibility,  all  darkness,  and  in  his  wickedness  and  ignorance 
he  sometimes  goes  so  far  as  to  deny  that  God  could  be  so  good  as  to 
communicate  Himself  to  His  creatures  in  a  manner  so  wonderful.  L,et 
us  read  with  faith  and  humility  the  achievements  of  those  who  knew 
how  to  sanctify  their  lives ;  let  us  walk  with  them  along  the  path  of 
virtue,  and  then  we  will  not  wonder  at  the  prodigious  blessings  God 
granted  them.  The  Gospel  in  practice,  the  gifts  of  God  as  a  reward  ; 
behold  all  in  the  lives  of  the  Saints. 

For  the  first,  in  all  the  lives  of  the  Saints  we  find  something  to 
learn,  no  matter  what  our  social  position  is.  True  virtue  is  common  to 

1  In  ten  years  I  could  not  procure  a  copy  of  this  "Life"  in  English,  except  a  very 
small  sketch  taken  from  Butler's  "Lives  of  Saints,"  printed  by  Henry  McGrath, 
Philadelphia,  and  the  loan  of  the  Life  of  our  Saint  by  Father  Cepari,  an  English  edition 
out  of  print. — Note  of  the  Translator. 



all.  From  the  example  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi,  not  only  per 
sons  who,  like  her,  live  consecrated  to  God  in  the  cloister,  but  all  others, 
can  derive  benefit.  Model  of  sanctity,  she  was  a  teacher  of  it,  and  by 
her  example  encouraged  it  in  all  states  of  life.  Separated  from  the 
world,  buried  in  her  monastery,  she  teaches  that  Religion,  having  appar 
ently  in  view  the  happiness  of  the  life  to  come,  promotes  at  the  same 
time  in  the  best  way  the  happiness  of  the  temporal  life.  As  a  sufficient 
proof  of  the  efficacy  of  her  example,  it  will  suffice  to  point  out  the  pecul 
iar  characteristic  by  which  she  is  distinguished  even  among  the  most 
perfect  souls — that  of  her  most  ardent  desire  to  suffer,  which  made  her 
so  often  repeat,  "  Non  mori,  sed  pati" — "Let  me  suffer  and  not  die."  Our 
utmost  care  is  to  avoid  the  sufferings  of  our  mortal  career,  but  as  they 
are  inevitable,  our  distress  and — in  the  sight  of  God — often  our  faults, 
too,  are  doubled  by  our  being  at  permanent  war  with  ourselves.  Man  is 
born  to  suffer,  as  birds  to  fly.  His  life  on  earth  is  a  contrast,  a  combat, 
a  struggle.  As  man  gets  strong  and  able  to  carry  his  cross,  he  advances 
equally  in  perfection.  The  cross  is  the  seal  of  virtue.  Thus,  our  Saint 
renounced  every  delight,  not  only  of  earth,  but  also  of  heaven.  No 
adversity  could  trouble  her ;  nay,  the  more  the  pain,  the  greater  the  joy 
of  her  heart ;  so  that,  having  vanquished  the  world  and  conquered  the 
flesh,  she  did  not  see  nor  know  aught  but  her  God  crucified,  for  whom 
she  became  enraptured  with  love.  Oh  !  if  but  a  spark  of  that  divine 
love  which  filled  her  would  penetrate  our  hearts,  how  much  more  justly 
would  we  value  the  vanities  of  the  world  and  the  ignominies  of  the 
cross !  But  our  self-love  is  too  strong  an  obstacle ;  let  us  divest  our 
selves  of  some  of  it,  at  least,  to  please  God ;  and  He,  being  so  solicitous 
for  our  welfare,  will  not  fail  to  give  us  a  foretaste  of  the  sweetness  and 
amiability  of  the  science  of  the  Saints  ;  by  progressing  in  which  our 
intellect  will  apprehend  those  ideas  and  immutable  hopes  which  acquire 
no  value  from  human  conversations,  depend  not  upon  a  passing  opinion, 
suit  all  needs  and  circumstances,  the  days  of  prosperity  and  those  of 
adversity,  .and,  being  at  once  our  encouragement  and  our  guide,  they 
alone  form  the  hero  of  humanity.  Profane  histories  give  us  but  deeds 
of  ambition,  of  despotism,  based  nearly  always  on  the  ruin  of  others ; 
whilst  Religion  shows  us,  in  her  Saints,  the  triumph  of  sacrificing 
self  for  the  benefit  of  others.  We  will  see  in  our  Saint,  how,  having 
attained  to  the  sublime  observance  of  the  first  precept,  "  Love  God 
above  everything,"  she  knew  with  equal  perfection  how  to  fulfill  the 
second,  which  is  like  to  it,  "Love  thy  neighbor  as  thyself"  Always 
seeing  in  her  neighbor  the  image  and  the  child  of  God,  she  fulfilled  one 
precept  by  the  practice  of  the  other.  There  is  no  better  argument  than 
this  by  which  to  know  the  true  lovers  of  God.  While  this  is  an  indis- 


pensable  duty  for  us  all,  it  must  at  the  same  time  be  admitted  tliat  the 
fulfilling  of  it  is  oftentimes  very  hard,  and  demands  of  us  magnanimous 
sacrifices.  That  neighbor  whom  we  must  love  as  ourselves,  is  not  infre 
quently  an  indiscreet  person,  turning  upon  us  the  malice  of  his  tongue ; 
an  odious  rival,  raising  himself  at  our  expense ;  a  false  friend,  who 
betrays  our  confidence ;  perhaps  our  neighbors  are  impious  men,  who 
live  by  doing  harm  daily  to  their  fellow-men.  And  we  must  love 
them ; — this  is  the  new  commandment  which  Jesus  Christ  sanctioned 
by  His  death  on  the  cross.  Our  obligation  is  binding,  and  the  fulfilling 
of  it  is  all  the  law.  From  which  it  will  evidently  appear  how  impor 
tant  is  the  reading  of  this  history,  which  offers  the  most  valuable 
stimulus  to  practice  these  virtues,  and  thus  to  attain  perfect  rectitude 
of  spirit. 

In  the  second  place,  there  were  very  many  wonderful  traits  in 
St.  M.  M.  De-P.  She  might  be  called,  with  good  reason,  the  Seraphic, 
the  Ecstatic  of  the  Carmel,  as  her  spirit  was  almost  continually  rapt 
in  ecstasy  and  led  to  contemplate  and  enjoy  the  most  sublime  perfec 
tions  of  the  Godhead.  Now,  Christian  admiration  for  this  must  pro 
ceed  from  a  state  of  the  soul  excited  by  lively  faith  in  the  all-powerful 
goodness  of  God,  who  operates  in  a  supernatural  manner  on  the  nothing 
ness  of  the  human  creature.  From  this  will  spring  a  greater  fervor  to 
adore,  serve,  and  love  so  good  a  God.  No  one  should  doubt  the  truth  of 
the  marvelous  things  contained  in  this  book,  as  I  will  relate  neither  fact 
nor  saying  which  has  not  been  examined  in  the  processes  of  her  beati 
fication  and  canonization  ;  and  so  the  conscience  of  all  believers  may  be 
at  rest.  The  wonderful  graces  obtained  afterwards,  and  herein  narrated, 
have  been  examined  and  approved  by  learned  theologians  deputed  to 
investigate  by  ecclesiastical  superiors.  This  should  be  sufficient  to 
secure  the  assent  of  every  prudent  man.  It  may  be  well  to  add  here, 
that  the  Saint,  being  very  near  death,  asserted  that  "  all  she  had  said  in 
ecstasy  or  privately,  or  related  to  the  Sisters  under  obedience,  had  been 
the  pure  action  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  not  interspersed  with  anything  of 
her  own  interest."  The  truth  of  this  assertion  appears  even  on  the 
strength  of  human  reasoning  alone.  In  fact,  a  maiden  who  knew  no 
more  than  what  was  needed  by  a  simple  nun,  could  not  have  explained 
the  most  sublime  mysteries  of  our  holy  faith  with  such  profound  doc 
trine  as  she  did,  unless  directed  immediately  by  supernatural  light.  If, 
in  reading,  you  sometimes  find  repeated  in  one  part  what  has  already 
been  said  in  another,  it  must  be  observed  that,  in  the  Life,  all  those 
ecstasies  were  related  which  it  did  not  seem  proper  to  separate.  Some 
were,  in  the  order  of  the  history,  hinted  at,  which  are  afterwards  related 
more  at  length  in  the  Works.  As  the  Saint  had  different  ecstasies  on 


the  same  subjects,  it  is  probable  that  she  said  the  same  or  similar  things 
several  times.  The  ecstasies  are  faithfully  described  as  spoken  or  related 
by  the  Saint.  The  periods  interposed  denote  the  longer  or  shorter 
pauses  she  made  during  the  spiritual  excesses.  In  this  book  will  also 
be  found  some  revelations  she  had,  contrary  to  the  opinions  of  some 
theologians,  which  discordance  need  not  surprise,  because  private  reve 
lations  have  no  more  weight  than  a  mere  opinion.  Such  is  the  judg 
ment  of  the  Catholic  Church  on  the  revelations  of  the  Saints  ;  so  that 
the  Church  never  intends  to  raise  them,  with  her  approbation,  above 
probability.  And  I  here  profess  my  particular  submission  to  the 
same  Church,  fully  complying  with  the  Bull  of  the  Sovereign  Pontiff 
Urban  VIII  in  regard  to  the  virtues,  miracles,  and  everything  else 
superhuman  of  which  mention  is  made  in  this  book.  • 

The  letters  of  St.  M.  M.  De-P.  which  are  appended,  are  scarce  in 
number,  because  the  Saint  was  very  much  opposed  to  receiving  and 
answering  letters.  She  experienced  great  aversion  to  entering  into 
confidential  relations,  even  spiritually,  with  any  person  whatsoever  ; 
and  when  she  brought  herself  to  write,  she  was  induced  thereto  by 
obedience  to  her  superiors.  But  the  few  letters  we  have  breathe  the 
fire  of  divine  love  into  the  soul,  and  are  in  themselves  rich  with  the 
best  and  most  efficacious  lessons.  In  the  simplicity  of  their  style  they 
secretly  bear  the  mark  of  the  unction  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  work 
miraculous  changes  in  the  hearts  of  their  readers.  Finally,  one  can  see 
in  them  the  character  of  her  who  composed  them,  and  the  fervor  of  her 
who  wrote  them. 

The  entire  book  is  divided  into  two  volumes :  the  first  contains  the 
L,ife  and  Miracles  of  the  Saint ;  the  second,  all  the  Works,  that  is, 
those  productions  of  her  spirit  which  we  find  in  existence.  Read 
these  pages,  faithful  Christian,  to  instruct  thyself  in  piety  and  to  excite 
thy  heart  to  devotion  towards  a  Saint  noble  by  blood,  nobler  by  virtue, 
simple  by  study,  but  very  learned  in  the  school  of  the  spirit  ;  to  whom 
her  most  adorable  Spouse,  Jesus  Christ,  was  a  teacher.  Here,  reader, 
thou  wilt  find  all  that  is  necessary  to  fulfill  those  duties  which  every  one 
owes  to  God,  his  neighbor,  and  himself.  Practice  with  fidelity  these 
useful  teachings,  and  thou  wilt  become  just,  humane,  charitable,  a  good 
citizen,  and  a  fervent  Christian.  L,ive  up  to  the  exhortations  given  by 
St.  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi,  and  to  what  she  herself  practiced,  and 
thou  wilt  be  happy  on  earth  and  blessed  in  heaven. 


The  Life  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  De-PattL 



JN  the  city  of  Florence,  prolific  and  happy  mother  of  children 
praiseworthy  for  all  kinds  of  virtue,  two  most  noble  fami 
lies,  the  De-Pazzi  and  the  Buondelmonti,  enjoy  a  most 
honorable  rank  for  antiquity  and  nobility  of  blood,  because 
for  many  centuries  they  have  counted  among  their  ancestors 
men  remarkable  in  arms  and  letters.  In  the  year  of  our 
Lord  1559,  these  two  families  were  united  by  the  marriage 
of  Camillo  di  Geri  De-Pazzi  and  Maria  di  Lorenzo  Buon 
delmonti  ;  and  as  they  were  of  equal  nobility  of  blood,  so  were  they 
also  similar  in  nobility  of  mind  and  love  of  Christian  piety.  They 
lived  in  the  perfect  harmony  of  conjugal  affection,  without  any  quarrel 
on  account  of  domestic  differences.  They  honored  one  another  with 
reciprocal  respect,  and  foremost  in  the  economy  of  their  family  was  the 
piety  and  the  fulfillment  of  all  duties  to  God  which  they  exacted  from 
their  servants,  and  the  benevolence  they  always  exhibited  towards  each 
and  all  of  them.  On  account  of  their  goodness,  the  nobility  of  their 
conduct,  and  the  affability  of  their  conversation,  they  were  not  only 
beloved  by  their  servants,  but  honored  as  models  by  the  other  families 
in  Florence.  In  fact,  from  their  house  were  banished  plays  and  worldly 
pastimes ;  frequenting  the  sacraments  on  all  festivals  was  commanded ; 
uniting  together  to  hear  the  word  of  God  and  visiting  the  churches 
were  the  usual  employments  of  that  devout  family.  It  pleased  God  that 
from  such  pious  parents  a  child  should  be  born  who  would  shed  im 
mortal  lustre  on  her  parentage  ;  the  splendor  of  whose  lofty  sanctity 
increased  the  glory  of  the  fatherland ;  and  who  is  now  a  star  of  primary 
magnitude  in  the  illustrious  Carmelite  Order.  Even  during  preg 
nancy  her  mother  had  reason  to  foresee  what  precious  fruit  she  was  to 
give  to  the  world  ;  because  she  never  felt  the  labors  and  annoyances 
usually  inseparable  from  that  state.  Thus  peacefully  progressing  in  it 
to  perfection,  on  the  2d  of  April,  1566,  she  happily  gave  birth  to  the 



seraphic  virgin  Mary  Magdalen,  who,  the  following  day,  was  born  again 
spiritually  unto  God  by  holy  baptism  in  the  Oratory  of  St.  John  the 
Baptist  in  Florence.    The  sponsors  were  Pandolfo  Strozzi  and  Fiammetta 
Minorbetti,  both  Florentine  nobles.     The  name  of  Catherine  was  given 
to  the  child,  and  perhaps  not  without  a  divine  dispensation ;  because, 
in  celestial  favors  and  virtuous  deeds,  she  was  to  be  very  much  like 
St.  Catherine  of  Siena,  towards  whom  she  had  a  particular  devotion 
all  her  life.     Soon  after  the  birth  of  the  child,  the  mother  began  to 
notice  the  excellent  character  of  Catherine,  as  during  her  infancy  she 
caused  none  of  the  trouble  which  nearly  all  children  give  to  those  who 
nurse  them ;  nay,  her  mother  felt  as  much  delight  in  doing  this  as  if  she 
were  feeding  an  angel  in  the  flesh.     In  all  this  the  mother  used  to  take 
great  pleasure,  and  justly  so  ;  she  was  wont  to  speak  of  it  to  her  rela 
tions  and  other  persons,  who  have  left  formal  testimony  of  it.     As  the 
little  girl  was  happily  developing,  the  nature  of  her  character  manifested 
itself  in  the  best  and  rarest  ways.     One  could  easily  guess,  even  at  that 
early  age,  what  she  would  be  when  adult.     She  had  a  most  beautiful 
mind  and  a  singular  brilliancy  of  talent.  This  was  not  joined,  though — 
as  often  happens — to  a  certain  impulsiveness  of  nature  that  finds  vent 
in  insolence  of  manners,  affected  gestures,  and  the  continuous  motion 
of  the  body,  but  was  rather  coupled  with  such  modesty  and  meekness 
as  to  make  her  appear  serious  and  majestic,  like  a  lady  of  advanced  age. 
She  was  the  admiration  of  all ;  and  the  girls  of  her  condition,  especially, 
who  sometimes  used  to  be  with  her,  had  great  respect  for  her,  and  pro 
posed  her  to  themselves  as  an  example.     Within  sight  of  her,  they  did 
not  dare  to  be  discomposed  nor  engage  in  puerile  plays.     The  charm  of 
her  face  attracted  the  love  of  all  those  who  beheld  her,  as  they  could 
perceive  in  it  the  angelic    purity  of  her  heart.     In  conversation  she 
was  affable  with  all,  ready  to  do  the  will  of  others  whenever  it  would 
not  be  improper  for  her  state.     She  repaid  with  fervent  thankfulness  all 
favors    offered    her,    and  was    to    all — even     the    servants — reverent, 
obedient,  and  humble.     But  the  most  wonderful  thing  at  that  early  age 
was  the  inclination  she  manifested,  almost  from  her  cradle,  for  spiritual 
and  divine  things.     Though  incapable  of  understanding  them,  yet  she 
used  very  much  to  enjoy  hearing  anybody  talking  about  them ;  and, 
therefore,  when  her  mother  being  in  company  with  devout  persons  used 
to  make  spiritual  discourses,  she  would  not  part  from  her  a  moment, 
as  she  was  thirsty  to  drink  at  the  fountain  of  the  divine  word.     As  this 
word  fell  not  in   vain   into   her  soul,  she  began   even   then   to   find 
her  delight  in  retirement  and  solitude;   so  that  very  often  she  with 
drew  all  alone  to  some  corner  as  if  to  meditate  on  the  things  of  God. 
She  had  scarcely  learned  the  rudiments  of  the  Christian  doctrine ;  in 
fact,  she  was  barely  able  to  read,  when  she  found  in  an  office  of  the 
Blessed  Virgin,  the  Symbol  of  St.  Athanasius,  an  abridgment  of  the 
sublime  mysteries  of  our  faith,  and  especially  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity. 
Though  she  did  not  understand  the  words,  except,  as  she  afterwards 
said,  by  a  certain    spiritual    instinct   with    which    her    affection  was 
entranced,  she  read  it  all  with  great  devotion ;  and,  judging  it  to  be 
an   object   of  inestimable   value,    with    the   greatest  joy   she  brought 
it  to   her    mother   to   read.      She   was    struck   with  admiration,  and 

Not  without  Divine  dispensation,  the  name  of  Catherine  was  given 
her  at  Baptism  (page  14). 



could   see   that   God   even  then  prepared  her  tender  child  for  under 
standing  the   most   sublime   mysteries.     Not   to    do  anything  at  ran 
dom,  but  with  cafe  and  reflection,  would  have  been  a  very  rare  thing 
for  a  child  of  her  age  ;  and  yet  this  was  truly  her  deportment  in  all,  and 
none    of  those    inattentions   so  frequent    to   children    happened    her. 
Whatever  savored  of  virtue  was  in  her  superior  to  her  age  ;  to  religious 
and  spiritual  persons  she  would  present  herself  with  such  questions  on 
the  divine  attributes  that  all  who  heard  her  were  greatly  astonished.  .  On 
account  of  her  fervent  and  assiduous  care  in  learning  the  mysteries  of 
the   Christian   faith,   and   of  her   excellent    disposition   of  heart   and 
intellect,  she  became  so  possessed  of  the  knowledge  of  it  that  even  in 
her  infancy  she  could  teach  others  the  most  difficult  doctrines  found  in 
the  catechism  of  our  religion.     She  also  manifested  at  that  tender  age 
the  beginning  of  her  holy  vocation  to  the  religious  state,  because  she 
rejoiced  exceedingly,  in  reciting  her  prayers,  to  veil  and  dress  herself  as 
well  as  she  could  in  the  costume  of  a  nun.     She  was  but  seven  years 
old  when  her  mind  was  opened  to  the  celestial  light ;   in  her  heart, 
before  the   love   of  the   world  appeared   for   an  instant,    the    love   of 
God  had  already  kindled  in  an  ineffable  manner  that  immense  flame, 
which,  destroying  by  degrees  the  earthly  life,  was  one  day  to  lead  her 
soul  to  heaven  as  a  seraph.     She  progressed  rapidly  in  the  exercise  of 
prayer ;  she  would  give  herself  to  it  always  with  new  pleasure  ;  and  she 
was  truly  looking  for  every  opportunity  quietly  to  withdraw  to  the  feet 
of  Jesus.     As  if  she  had  learned  by  experience  that  all  worldly  conver 
sations  were  a  great  impediment  to  union  with  God,  she  would  avoid, 
as  much  as  possible,  talking  with  anybody  on  vain  subjects.     Often, 
when  her  people  looked  for  her  in  the  halls  and  chambers  of  the  palace, 
she  was  found  behind  some  door  or  bedstead,  or  in  the  most  remote  parts 
of  the  household,  with  a  blissful  mien,  all  rapt  in  God.     Moreover,  she 
knew  so  well  how  to  guide  herself  in  the  practice  of  prayer  that  the 
most  select  teacher  of  the  spiritual  life  would  not  have  known  how  to 
better  instruct  her.     In  fact,  as  could  be  gathered  from  her  discourses, 
it  was  known  afterwards  that,  in  praying  during  her  childhood,  she  had 
practiced  the  most  exact  rules  which  have  been  suggested  by  teachers 
of  the  spiritual  life.     She  would  remove  from  around  herself  whatever 
might  be  the  cause  of  wandering  or  distraction  ;  select  the  most  obscure, 
retired,  and  suitable  corner  of  the  house ;  determine  the  time,  and  propc  < 
to  herself  the  end  of  her  prayer  ;  and  in  it,  as  she  afterwards  said,  ^ 
purely  sought  God  in   order  to  learn   to   fulfill  His   holy  will.      1  c 
severance  was  not  wanting  to  her  prayer,  as  nothing  contrary  or  pleasir  t 
could  divert  her  from  the  daily  hours  which  she  had  proposed  to  herself 
for  praying.     Even  in  time  of  aridity  of  spirit,  which  is  a  very  strong 
temptation  and  hard  to  overcome,  she  was  perfectly  unalterable  till  the 
completion  of  her  holy  purpose.     Prayer,  therefore,  had  become  her 
most  dear  delight  and  her  principal  entertainment.     Thus  is  God  some 
times  wont  to  plant  in  some  of  His  chosen  souls  these  precocious  flowers, 
as  a  prelude  of  the  fruits  of  that  extraordinary  grace  which,  at  the  proper 
time,  He  intends  to  grant  them ;  so  that  those  who  see  these  flowers 
may  divine  the  future,  and  understand  afterwards  that  from  Him  alone 
so  great  a  virtue  has  proceeded. 


Catherine  having  persevered  in  so  excellent  a  disposition  till  the 
age  of  nine  years,  Father  Andrea  De-Rossi,  a  Jesuit,  her  mother's 
confessor,  thought  he  would  take  special  charge  of  her,  and  first  gave  her 
for  meditation  the  Passion  of  Jesus  Christ,  appointing  for  her  use  the 
"Meditations  of  Father  Gasparo  Loarte  of  the  Society  of  Jesus"  In 
consequence  of  this  direction,  she  applied  herself  so  constantly  to  medi 
tation  on  the  passion  of  Jesus  that  she  would  long  remain  in  it  motion 
less,  and  almost  ecstatic  ;  though  sometimes  during  her  prayer  she  was 
not  able  to  avoid  open  and  noisy  places,  she  was  not  dispirited  in  conse 
quence  thereof,  but,  being  all  absorbed  in  God,  she  seemed  to  see  or 
hear  nothing.  In  order  to  remove  in  advance  all  causes  of  distraction, 
she  selected  the  early  morning  to  pray ;  so  that  at  this  tender  age  she 
arose  daily  from  her  bed,  at  a  very  early  hour,  and,  for  fear  her 
mother  might  forbid  her,  she  earnestly  recommended  herself  to  the 
servant-maids,  who  were  the  witnesses  of  her  great  diligence,  begging 
them  very  affectionately  not  to  reveal  it  to  her  mother  or  anybody  else. 
She  was  so  constant  and  well  ordered  in  the  prosecution  of  this  holy 
exercise  that  she  would  spend  in  it  one  hour  every  morning,  and  never 
omitted  it  all  the  time  she  lived  in  the  world.  When,  on  account  of  her 
infirm  health,  she  had  to  take  iron,  and,  in  consequence  of  this  medicine, 
some  exercise,  as  soon  as  she  would  return  to  her  seclusion  she  would 
eagerly  give  herself  to  prayer.  In  a  word,  a  day  did  not  pass  without 
her  employing  three  or  four  hours  in  prayer,  and  very  often  she  would 
pass  entire  nights  in  meditation  and  prayer.  If,  during  them,  nature 
demanded  the  comfort  of  sleep,  she  would  take  this  at  very  short  inter 
vals,  and  on  her  knees,  with  her  head  leaning  on  the  bed.  Rare  example 
and  lesson  to  those  who  give  up  or  shorten  their  prayer  for  every  light 




|HE  passion  of  Jesus  Christ  kindled  in  Catherine,  though  yet 
of  tender  age,  an  ardent  wish  to  suffer  for  her  Saviour.  It 
was  a  wonder  to  see  so  small  a  creature,  delicate  and  gentle, 
a  strong  warrior  against  her  flesh,  showing  so  much  reso 
lution  to  subject  it  to  suffering,  which  is  so  inimical  and 
repugnant  to  nature.  She  regarded  as  just  the  suffer 
ings  of  the  senses  ;  and,  as  children  invent  plays  and 
amusements  by  the  instinct  of  their  age,  so  she  would  find 
new  ways  of  afflicting  her  delicate  limbs.  Her  ardent  desire  for  suffering 
was  not  appeased  by  the  discipline — a  common  instrument  of  penance — 
but,  in  addition,  she  would  make  crowns  and  girdles  out  of  the  thorny 
stems  of  orange  trees,  and,  imitating  the  passion  of  Jesus,  she  would 
encircle  with  them  her  head  and  sides.  Thus  encircled  and  crowned, 
she  would  lie  in  bed  at  night,  not  sleeping,  but  bitterly  suffering.  She 
frowned  at  homage,  and  complained  greatly  of  being  too  much 
caressed.  She  would  beg  the  servant-maids,  with  tender  love,  not  to 
warm  her  bed,  even  in  the  most  rigid  winter,  from  which  she  would 
sometimes  secretly  remove  the  mattress  in  order  to  sleep  on  the  bare 
straw  bed.  Her  mother  noticing  this,  and,  fearing  that  her  daughter's 
delicate  constitution  might  suffer  too  much,  made  her  sleep  in  her  own 
bed,  in  order  to  prevent  her  from  practicing  such  penances.  The  tem 
perance  she  practiced  in  taking  nourishment  was  so  exceedingly  great, 
that  it  might  better  be  called  a  rigorous  and  continuous  abstinence. 
She  never  asked  for  anything,  as  children  are  wont  to  do,  but  was 
satisfied  with  whatever  was  given  her ;  and  she  took  so  little  of  it  that 
to  her  mother,  who  watched  her,  it  seemed  impossible  that  she  could 
sustain  herself.  She  knew  so  well  how  to  mortify  her  appetite  for  food, 
which  is  generally  a  master  over  children,  that  at  such  a  tender  age, 
being  invited  during  the  day  to  take  fruits  or  other  things,  she  would 
not  do  it,  except  when  compelled  in  obedience,  to  her  mother.  If  it  had 
not  been  for  the  continual  vigilance  of  others,  in  order  to  make  her  take 
the,  .ordinary  nourishment,  she  would  have  utterly  extinguished,  with 


her  abstinences  and  fasts,  that  little  vigor  of  health  which  nature 
granted  her.  When  not  yet  a  religious,  as  we  will  see,  she  was  placed 
by  her  parents  in  the  monastery  of  St.  Giovannino  in  Via  S.  Gallo  of 
Florence,  where  the  Gerosolimitan  Sisters  are.  Here  having  an  oppor 
tunity,  with  holy  liberty,  to  satisfy  her  love  by  abstinences,  she  was 
reduced  to  such  weakness  that  she  scarcely  had  sufficient  strength  to 
sew.  Thus  the  holy  child,  with  voluntary  sufferings,  trained  herself  to 
combat  the  devil,  hating  her  own  flesh,  according  to  the  Gospel  teaching. 
Being  asked  in  her  mature  age  why  in  her  childhood  she  had  treated 
her  body  so  severely,  she  answered  that  she  did  it  in  order  to  render 
herself  better  able  to  pray,  as  he  who  hates  not  himself  cannot  remain 
united  with  God,  and  cannot  be  the  disciple  of  Jesus  Christ.  Thus  did 
she  speak,  because  she  was  enlightened  by  celestial  light.  And  that  this 
was  the  truth,  is  proved  by  the  charity  which  she  felt  very  intensely  for 
her  neighbor.  She  looked  upon  the  poverty  and  miseries  of  others  as  her 
own.  She  melted  with  compassion,  and  felt  moved  with  sorrow,  when 
she  could  not  assist  the  poor,  whom  she  regarded  as  dear  to  her  Jesus, 
and  she  looked  upon  them  with  as  great  a  love  as  if  they  had  come  out 
with  her  from  her  mother's  womb.  She  reflected,  even  then,  that  the 
charity  which  is  practiced  with  some  sacrifice  of  necessary  things,  is 
dearer  to  God  ;  hence  the  breakfast  and  the  afternoon  luncheon  which 
her  mother  gave  her,  as  a  child,  she,  with  great  joy,  would  distribute  to 
the  poor,  and  particularly  to  the  poor  prisoners,  when,  on  her  way  to 
school,  she  passed  in  front  of  the  prisons.  Therefore,  her  parents, 
seeing  how  she  delighted  in  works  of  mercy,  when  poor  people  came  to 
the  door,  gave  them  the  alms  through  her  hands.  Her  charity  did  not 
stop  at  the  visible  object  of  bodily  miseries  ;  but,  with  greater  compassion, 
penetrating  to  the  spirit,  so  great  was  the  zeal  she  felt  for  the  souls  of 
others  that  she  would  inconsolably  weep  for  the  sins  she  saw  committed, 
and  for  those  in  particular  which  offended  the  charity  of  her  neighbor. 
In  fact,  having  once  heard  words  of  grave  offense  to  a  neighbor,  she 
passed  the  whole  night  without  taking  rest,  buried  in  grief  and  tears. 
She  wished  so  ardemly  to  benefit  souls,  that  at  such  a  childish  age  her 
greatest  delight  was  to  teach  children  the  Pater  Noster,  the  Ave  Maria, 
and  the  Credo,  with  the  rudiments  of  our  faith.  Whilst  other  children 
were  highly  pleased  to  go  from  the  cities  to  the  villas  for  sport,  she 
also  was  delighted,  but  from  a  higher  motive ;  that  is,  because  she  went 
there  to  find  scope  to  satisfy  her  charity  by  giving  religious  instruction 
to  the  children  of  the  peasants.  This  was  her  entertainment  at  the 
villas  ;  and  on  feast-days  she  would  gather  the  little  girls  of  her  age,  not 
to  play  together,  but  to  teach  them  Christian  doctrine.  If  they  were 
poor,  too,  she  would  also  practice  material  charity,  and  assist  them, 
with  her  mother's  permission,  in  the  necessities  of  life — now  with 
food,  now  with  clothing.  She  was  so  much  attached  to  these  works 
of  charity,  that  when  she  had  to  return  to  the  city  she  felt  so  sorry 
that  she  could  not  be  consoled.  Her  parents  noticed  this,  and  having 
compassion  for  so  holy  an  affliction,  and  wishing  to  satisfy  such  pious 
sentiments,  they  brought. to  Florence  a  little  daughter  of  one  of  their 
farmers,  called  Giovanna.  They  raised  this  child  in  their  own  palace 
in  company  with  Catherine,  who  continued,  to  her  great  delight,  to  give 


her  instructions  in  the  Christian  faith.  As  true  love  is  communicative 
and  operative,  and  such  was  that  of  Catherine,  not  satisfied  with 
instilling  in  her  neighbors  that  good  which  perfects  the  intellect,  but 
desiring  also  to  promote  that  which  perfects  the  will,  she  tried  to  draw 
not  only  Giovanna,  but  also  the  other  servant-maids  of  the  house,  to 
pray  with  her.  To  induce  them  to  do  it,  she  had  no  regard  for  her 
nobility,  nor  the  delicacy  of  her  constitution,  nor  for  her  youthful  age, 
nor  the  weakness  of  her  body  ;  but,  made  strong  and  vigorous  by 
the  zeal  she  felt  for  the  good  of  souls,  she  would  undertake  to  do  house 
work  with  them,  help  to  sweep  the  rooms,  to  make  the  beds,  and  provide 
the  needs  of  the  house,  so  that  the  sooner  they  were  free  from  these 
occupations  the  sooner  they  might  with  her  employ  the  remaining  time 
in  prayer.  Thus  God  united  to  her  charity  manifest  signs  of  that  great 
humility  which  she  was  to  practice. 





N  the  heart  of  Catherine,  inflamed  with  divine  love,  God 
infused  so  high  an  esteem  of  the  Sacrament  of  the  Altar, 
that,  before  being  humanly  invited  to  it,  she  longed  with 
holy  impatience  to  be  admitted  to  feed  upon  the  Bread  of 
angels.  Her  age  prevented  her  from  receiving  in  reality 
her  Jesus  in  the  Sacrament;  but,  with  the  most  intense 
desire  and  most  ardent  love,  she  rejoiced  in  the  hope  of 
one  day  obtaining  such  a  grace,  and  then,  as  she  could  do 
nothing  else,  she  took  pleasure  in  seeing  others  receive  the  most  sacred 
Eucharist.  She,  therefore,  almost  importuned  her  mother  to  take  her, 
not  only  on  festivals  of  obligation,  but  also  on  those  days  which,  with 
out  obligation,  are  solemnized  by  the  piety  of  the  faithful.  It  is  hard  to 
say  with  how  much  devotion,  on  her  knees,  she  would  fix  her  eyes  for 
the  whole  of  the  morning  on  those  persons  who  received  Holy  Com 
munion  ;  and,  almost  carried  away  by  holy  envy,  she  would  sometimes 
complain  because  so  great  a  gift  of  Heaven  was  not  granted  her.  On 
her  mother's  returning  home  from  Holy  Communion,  Catherine,  as  a 
butterfly  in  love  with  the  light  of  the  heavenly  Spouse,  would  not  sepa 
rate  herself  from  her,  but,  scenting  with  the  soul  the  suavity  and  spirit 
ual  fragrance  of  Jesus  in  the  Sacrament,  who  feeds  among  the  lilies 
(pascitur  inter  lilia\  she  would  draw  nearer  than  usual  to  her  and  would 
not  part.  When  questioned  by  her  mother,  she  would  answer :  "  Because 
you  smell  of  Jesus. " 

To  her  intense  love  for  this  most  divine  Sacrament  was  joined  a 
supreme  reverence,  with  which  she  honored  the  same  with  unspeakable 
humility.  One  feast-day  morning  she  was  late,  and,  the  weather  being 
rainy  and  the  streets  muddy,  her  parents  requested  her  to  take  breakfast 
before  going  to  Mass  and  then  to  go  in  a  carriage ;  but  when  she  heard 
it  she  burst  into  bitter  weeping,  saying  it  did  not  behoove  her  to  go  to 
see  Jesus  in  such  a  manner.  In  order  to  quiet  her,  it  was  necessary  to 
let  her  go  to  the  church  fasting  and  on  foot.  She  would  beg  her  spiritual 
director  and  her  mother  with  importunity  and  ardent  desire  to  grant  her 
the  consolation  of  being  admitted  to  the  Holy  Communion ;  hence  the 
director,  Father  Andrea  De-Rossi,  knowing  that  her  desire  emanated 


from  a  knowledge  and  affection  superior  to  her  age  (ten  years),  promised 
to  satisfy  her  on  the  feast  of  the  Annunciation  of  the  Blessed  Virgin. 
With  how  much  and  with  what  heavenly  joy  Catherine  received  this 
promise,  no  one  whose  heart  is  not  as  thirsty  for  Jesus  as  hers  was  can 
imagine.  In  all  the  days  which  preceded  the  great  solemnity  she  thought 
of  nothing  but  the  Blessed  Sacrament ;  she  never  tired  speaking  of  it. 
She  was  always  in  prayer;  she  was  always  practicing  penance,  chastising 
herself,  an  innocent  virgin,  with  fasts.  All  the  years  of  her  life  might 
be  called  years  of  innocence,  of  piety,  and  a  continual  preparation  for 
Holy  Communion.  Finally,  the  happy  day  for  Catherine  burst  forth— 
the  day  longed  for  by  her  fervent  heart,  on  which,  for  the  first  time,  at 
the  age  of  ten  years,  she  received  the  most  holy  Sacrament  in  the  Church 
of  St.  Giovannino,  then  belonging  to  the  Fathers  of  the  Society  of 
Jesus.  God  not  permitting  Himself  to  be  surpassed  in  love  by  His 
creature,  the  greater  the  wish  and  devout  preparation  of  this  innocent 
soul,  the  greater,  no  doubt,  was  the  consolation  with  which  He  filled 
her  soul  in  Holy  Communion,  and  such  was  the  sweetness  she  experi 
enced  in  that  sacramental  union  with  God  that  she  used  to  say  she  never 
felt  a  greater  in  her  lifetime.  Having  tasted  and  felt  how  sweet  and 
delicious  her  Lord  in  this  Sacrament  was,  she  became  inflamed  with  a 
parching  thirst  often  to  approach  that  prodigious  fountain  of  grace,  and 
therefore  her  spiritual  father,  seeing  in  her  such  great  virtue  and  knowl 
edge  superior  to  her  age,  properly  decided  to  satisfy  her  every  eight  days. 
God  having  granted  her  holy  wish,  she  would  await  the  whole  week, 
with  holy  sighs  and  tears  of  tender  love,  the  happy  day  for  her  soul ; 
and  every  day — nay,  every  hour — seemed  to  her  a  very  long  time  to  pass 
in  order  to  arrive  at  the  moment  of  her  spiritual  consolation.  Such  was 
her  spiritual  delight,  her  heart  being  filled  by  Holy  Communion  with  so 
many  gifts  of  celestial  comfort,  she  felt  as  though  melting  with  love, 
and,  this  holy  fervor  showing  in  her  exterior  appearance,  she  be 
came  a  source  of  wonder  and  edification  to  all  those  who  beheld  her 
so  collected  and  devout. 






SOUIy  so  pure  could  not  but  love  purity  and  innocence ;  she 
knew  by  supernatural  light  that  the  Divine  Bridegroom 
attracted  to  Himself  pure  souls  with  the  precious  odor  of 
purity  and  innocence ;  therefore  purity  would  wonderfully 
enter  into  her  heart  whenever  she  beheld  it.  Being  once 
asked  why  she  so  tenderly  caressed  the  little  children  to 
whom  she  taught  the  Christian  doctrine  at  the  villa/  she 
answered  that  she  did  so  on  account  of  the  stainless  purity 
she  perceived  in  them  ;  as,  not  having  yet  committed  sin,  they  had  not 
stained  the  white  robe  of  baptismal  innocence,  and  because  they  repre 
sented  the  Child  Jesus  of  that  age.  From  the  same  love  of  purity  she 
ardently  desired  the  monastic  state,  and  even  from  her  childhood  she 
had  a  resolute  and  constant  will  to  make  it  her  choice.  Enlightened  by 
celestial  light  and  drawn  by  the  high  idea  she  had  of  holy  purity,  she 
thought  the  offering  of  perpetual  virginity  a  gift  she  ought  to  make  to 
God.  On  Holy  Thursday  of  the  year  of  our  salvation  1576,  the  tenth 
of  her  age  (wonderful  thing !),  meditating  on  the  infinite  love  with  which 
the  Eternal  Father  loved  the  world,  in  giving  to  it  His  only-begotten  Son, 
who  left  Himself,  His  body  and  blood,  His  soul  and  Divinity,  as  a  food  for 
us  miserable  mortals,  inflamed  with  the  desire  of  responding  with  gratitude 
to  so  great  a  love,  she  thought  of  making  to  God  the  worthiest  return 
possible  for  her  to  make.  After  receiving  Holy  Communion,  the  same 
day,  full  of  divine  love,  she  consecrated  her  virginity  to  God  by  a  per 
petual  vow,  and  in  the  same  act  she  plighted  her  faith  and  word  to  her 
beloved  and  loving  Jesus,  that  she  would  have  no  other  spouse  but  Him. 
Jesus  accepted  the  offer,  and  in  token  of  it  placed  on  her  finger  a  most 
precious  ring,  which  she  then  neither  saw  nor  felt,  but  afterwards  it 
was  shown  her  by  her  Divine  Spouse. 

If  the  heart  of  this  tender  virgin  was  ever  burning  with  love  for 
Jesus,  in  this  act  she  felt  such  flames  of  it  that,  unable  to  contain  them 
within  her  breast,  she  was  soon  compelled  to  manifest  them  exteriorly, 
and  this  happened  on  the  feast  of  St.  Andrew  the  Apostle,  whilst  she  was 
at  the  villa  with  her  mother.  Her  spirit  being  overcome  by  an  excess 
of  divine  love,  she  felt  within  such  strong  ardor  and  faintness  that  she 

Though  only  a  little  girl  as  yet,  she  guestions  her  mother  and  the 
Religious  concerning  the  mysteries  of  our  faith  (  page  15  ). 



was  excited  almost  to  frenzy,  could  find  no  place  to  rest,  could  not  speak  a 
word,  and  seemed  almost  overwhelmed  on  all  sides.  Her  mother,  believ 
ing  her  to  be  afflicted  with  some  bodily  ailment,  did  not  omit  to  apply 
convenient  remedies,  but  human  skill  was  not  and  could  not  be  of  any 
benefit  to  her ;  and  well  did  the  sufferer  know  it ;  but  she  said  nothing  of 
it  to  her  mother,  both  through  an  exercise  of  humility  and  for  greater 
correspondence  to  the  love  of  her  Spouse,  who  was  pleased  to  relieve 
her  on  the  following  day,  when  her  body,  yet  tender,  could  not  have 
endured  any  more.  Yet  God  willed,  for  a  useful  manifestation  of  the 
truth,  that  she  once  would  declare  the  supernatural  cause  of  this.  This 
was  done  in  a  case  similar  to  it,  which  happened  her  several  years  later, 
when  she  was  already  clothed  in  the  habit  of  a  Religious,  and,  being 
rapt  unto  ecstasy,  she  spoke  these  precious  words:  "O  Love,  what  Thou 
makest  me  feel  now  is  like  unto  what  Thou  didst  communicate  to  me 
on  the  feast  of  him  who  so  loved  the  cross,1  when  I  was  not  yet  dedi 
cated  to  Thee  in  the  sacred  Religion,2  and  my  mother  thought  it  was 
bodily  sickness. "  Which  being  made  known  to  the  mother,  and  she 
comparing  one  case  with  the  other,  testified  to  Sister  Vangelista  del 
Giocondo  and  other  nuns,  that  what  had  happened  her  daughter  at  the 
villa  was  from  a  supernatural  cause.  If  she  had  not  declared  it  before 
then  with  such  positive  certainty,  she  was  none  the  less  convinced  of  it, 
since  God  was  not  slow  in  offering  to  her  mind  other  indications  by 
which  to  repute  her  daughter  as  privileged  by  Heaven. 

1  St.  Andrew. 

2  "  Religion  "  here,  as  in  many  other  places  in  this  book,  is  used  in  the  sense  of 
41  Religious  Order.  "—Note  of  the  Translator. 




|T  was  the  year  1580,  when  the  most  serene  Grand  Duke  of 
Tuscany,  Francis  de  Medici  I,  chose  as  commissary  of  the 
city  of  Cortona,  Camillo  De-Pazzi,  the  father  of  Catherine. 
It  was  customary  to  put  in  such  an  office  a  Florentine  noble 
whose  wisdom  would  equal  the  splendor  of  his  birth,  that 
he  might  secure  loyal  veneration  from  the  people.  And  the 
gifts  and  virtues  of  Camillo  were  to  amply  correspond  to 
the  expectation  entertained  of  him.  Therefore,  having  to 
go  there  and  remain  for  the  course  of  a  year,  he  resolved  to  take  his 
family  with  him,  Catherine  excepted,  whom,  not  without  a  heavenly 
disposition,  he  entrusted  to  the  care  of  Sister  Selvaggia  Morelli,  her 
cousin,  a  nun  held  in  high  esteem  in  the  monastery  of  St.  Giovannino 
of  the  Knights  of  Malta.  We  will  not  say  how  Catherine  rejoiced  at 
such  a  determination  on  her  father's  part,  whilst,  on  account  of  her  greal 
care  in  removing  everything  that  might  distract  her  from  her  union  with 
God,  she  certainly  saw  in  it  the  greatest  convenience  to  attend,  while  in 
the  monastery,  to  prayer  and  other  devout  exercises.  The  nuns  also 
rejoiced  in  their  turn,  and,  on  account  of  the  high  opinion  of  the  virtue  in 
which  they  heard  she  was  generally  held,  they  eagerly  wished  to  enjoy 
the  experience  of  it.  Our  Catherine  then  entered  the  monastery,  and  her 
first  thought  was  to  obtain  permission  to  freely  receive  the  sacred  Bread 
of  angels  on  all  feasts  of  obligation.  This  she  did  while  there,  with 
unalterable  frequency  and  always  with  lively  devotion.  Two  affections 
were  enkindled  in  her  heart  by  this  exercise — one  of  charity,  the  other 
of  humility;  by  charity,  she  fervently  wished  that  all  souls  would  be 
partakers  of  the  blessings  she  found  and  enjoyed  in  the  sacramental 
union  with  God ;  and  by  humility,  in  order  not  to  be  singular  (as  in  that 
monastery  such  frequenting  of  the  sacraments  was  unusual),  she  procured 
and  proceeded  with  such  pious  exhortations  and  examples  that  some 
nuns  at  first,  and  then  all,  followed  her  habit  constantly. 

The  eye  of  her  mother  (who,  being  too  jealous  of  her  temporal  good, 
watched  her  assiduously)  not  being  on  her,  though  in  the  monastery 
somebody  was  always  at  her  side  and  she  also  had  more  opportunity 
to  converse  than  at  the  parental  house,  she  cared  for  nothing  but  what 
could  promote  the  perfection  of  her  spirit.  Therefore,  letting  loose  the 
rein  of  her  desire  to  pray  continually,  she  became  so  absorbed  in  this 
holy  exercise  that,  besides  the  regular  times,  during  which  she  often 

ST.   MARY    MAGDALEN    D^-PAZZI.  $5 

retired  to  the  choir,  she  would  employ  three  hours  regularly  every  day  in 
it — two  in  the  morning  and  one  in  the  evening ;  so  that,  between  these 
and  the  interrupted  times,  the  nuns  saw  that  most  of  the  day  was  spent 
by  her  in  mental  prayer.  But  her  fervid  spirit  did  not  feel  sufficiently 
satisfied,  and  therefore  even  during  the  night  she  often  left  her  bed  and 
prostrated  herself  before  God  in  prayer.  On  account  of  her  pressing 
requests  to  her  cousin  and  teacher,  she  was  often  permitted  to  go  at  night 
to  the  choir  for  Matins  with  the  other  nuns,  and  when  refused  she  arose 
at  the  same  hour,  and,  hidden  in  her  room,  she  knelt  at  the  foot  of  the 
bed  and  prayed  till  the  morning  bell  called  all  to  hear  the  Holy  Mass. 
Her  meditations  were  in  a  special  manner  on  the  current  gospels.  She 
took  (as  those  nuns  testified),  on  Saturday  evening,  the  gospel  for  the  fol 
lowing  Sunday,  and,  extracting  some  points  from  it,  made  her  medita 
tions  on  them  during  the  following  week.  The  same  nuns  also  left  tes 
timony  to  the  effect  that  they  saw  her  several  times  so  absorbed  in 
meditation  that  she  seemed  to  them  an  angel  of  paradise.  They  saw 
her  as  if  alienated  from  her  senses,  her  face  red  as  a  rose,  with  her  eyes 
as  resplendent  as  luminous  stars;  and  especially  her  remaining  thus, firm 
and  fixed  like  a  statue  for  whole  hours  on  her  knees,  without  moving 
her  eyes,  caused  them  great  surprise.  Whilst  they  were  in  the  choir 
reciting  the  Divine  Office,  such  was  her  modesty  and  composure  that 
the  nuns,  some  in  wonder,  others  with  delight,  and  many  out  of  the 
devotion  it  would  cause  them  to  see  her,  could  not  take  their  eyes  away 
from  her. 

To  make  herself  even  better  able  to  perform  this  holy  exercise  of 
prayer,  profiting  here  also  by  the  great  advantage  the  monastery  offered 
her,  as  she  doubled  her  prayers,  so  she  also  did  her  penances.  Besides 
taking  short  rest,  on  account  of  the  long  time  employed  in  meditating, 
she  frequently  slept  on  the  bare  straw  bed,  which,  though  she  tried  to 
hide  it  from  her,  was  often  noticed  by  her  guardian.  Zealous  in  her 
abstinence,  Catherine  multiplied  her  fasts  and  disciplines  so  that  she  was 
reduced  to  a  state  of  bad  health,  and  yet  she  was  so  much  opposed  to  any 
bodily  comfort  that  she  was  never  sad,  except  when  by  the  direction 
of  her  teacher  she  was  compelled  to  take  something  more  than  the  ordi 
nary  nourishment. 

As  in  the  world  she  had  given  edification  to  many  by  her  virtues,  so 
also  in  the  monastery  she  was,  by  the  same,  a  source  of  great  edification 
to  the  Religious,  who  particularly ,  besides  the  other  things  aforesaid,  gave 
testimony  of  the  retirement,  modesty,  charity,  obedience,  and  humility 
which  they  noticed  in  her.  In  fact,  as  they  relate,  she  was  never  found 
with  the  other  girls  that  were  kept  there  or  with  the  younger  members 
of  the  monastery  for  recreations  and  pastimes,  but  she  was  only  seen 
with  the  others  in  the  choir,  in  places  of  devotion,  or  near  the  sick,  and 
sometimes  with  some  whose  conversation  seemed  to  her  more  spiritual, 
or  with  those  whom  she  knew  to  be  better  disposed  to  become  more 
retired  and  devout.  She  spoke  of  spiritual  things  only,  and  she 
studied  always  to  excite  the  nuns  to  the  religious  observance,  and 
all  the  persons  in  the  monastery  to  the  frequenting  of  the  sacra 
ments.  She  was  never  heard  to  utter  a  word  of  vanity,  of  levity,  or  idle 
ness  ;  she  was  never  seen  excited  or  restless,  but  always  benign,  serious, 


and  meek.  Not  a  hint  of  murmuring  or  lamentation  came  from  her 
lips,  and  though,  on  account  of  her  retired  and  singular  mode  of  living, 
particularly  her  frequenting  the  sacraments,  which,  at  first,  was  not 
approved  by  some,  she  sometimes  encountered  opposition,  yet  she  took 
nothing  in  evil  part,  but  always  covered  the  faults  of  others,  and  with 
unalterable  firmness  she  advanced  in  her  devout  exercises.  In  visiting  the 
sick  of  the  monastery  she  would  manifest  toward  them  the  greatest  affec 
tion,  exhort  them  with  sweet  and  charitable  words,  read  spiritual  books 
to  them,  encourage  them  to  patience  and  other  virtues,  and  administer 
to  them  all  those  charitable  offices  which  were  permitted  and  suitable 
for  her  ;  and  thus  she  occupied  her  recreation  time.  Hence,  any  one 
looking  for  Catherine,  not  finding  her  in  her  cell  or  in  the  choir,  would 
go  straight  to  the  bedside  of  the  sick,  sure  to  find  her  there.  As  for  the 
obedience  she  practiced  in  this  monastery,  her  teacher  asserted,  with 
formal  testimony,  that  Catherine  never  showed  any  repugnance  to  do 
anything  that  would  be  commanded  her,  but  she  did  everything  with 
promptness  and  rectitude.  Not  only  to  her  teacher,  but  also  to  all  the 
other  nuns,  she  showed  great  veneration  and  sincere  obedience.  On 
account  of  her  great  love  of  charity  and  humility,  she  desired  to  be 
employed  in  the  lowest  and  most  menial  occupations  of  the  monastery; 
hence,  she  seemed  to  feel  happy  when  she  was  permitted  to  do  some 
servile  work.  Because  of  the  low  esteem  in  which  she  held  herself, 
and  the  respect  she  had  for  the  religious  state,-  she  considered  herself  un 
worthy  of  living  with  the  nuns  ;  and  sometimes  she  excused  her  keeping 
at  a  distance  by  saying  to  them  :  "  You  are  the  brides  of  Jesus,  by  your 
religious  profession  ;  but  I  am  not,  and  therefore  I  am  not  worthy  to 
stay  with  you." 

The  nuns,  seeing  these  rare  qualities  and  singular  virtues,  con 
ceived  the  thought  that  she  was  not  an  ordinary  creature,  but  another 
St.  Gertrude  or  St.  Catherine  of  Siena,  as  they  asserted  that  they  had 
never  known  a  girl  endowed  with  so  much  goodness  ;  therefore,  such 
was  their  respect  for  her,  that  some  did  not  dare  to  converse  with  her, 
others  never  had  enough  of  seeing  and  talking  with  her,  and  all  very 
much  desired  that  she  would  become  a  nun  in  their  monastery.  This 
desire  was  so  ardent  that,  knowing  her  to  be  opposed  to  it,  because  she 
was  inclined  to  choose  a  more  severe  rule,  they  declared  themselves 
ready  to  allow  her  to  lead  them  to  that  observance  and  mode  of  life 
which  would  better  please  her ;  but,  humble  as  she  was,  she  considered 
herself  wholly  inadequate  for  such  an  undertaking,  and,  prudently, 
would  not  rest  assured  of  the  uncertain  success  of  such  promises. 
Therefore,  her  parents,  having  returned  from  Cortona,  brought  her  back 
again  to  the  ancestral  residence,  after  fifteen  months'  stay  in  the  above- 
named  monastery.  The  good  nuns  were  exceedingly  disconsolate  on 
account  of  the  departure  of  a  soul  so  chosen  and  favored  of  God,  and 
lamented  because  Heaven  had  not  permitted  them  to  enjoy  her  as  their 
sister ;  but,  at  the  same  time,  they  remained  particularly  edified  by  the 
example  of  her  piety  and  holy  conversation,  and  very  much  pleased  at 
having  had  among  them,  during  that  time,  a  youthful  virgin  who,  in 
the  first  dawn  of  her  life,  so  to  say,  gave  promise  of  a  noonday  of  sub 
lime  sanctity. 







JHE  holy  impatience  of  this  chosen  bride  of  the  L,ord  would 
not  permit  her  to  refrain  long  from  stealing  away  from  the 
world,  to  live  permanently  in  the  religious  cloister,  united 
to  her  Divine  Spouse.  Even  from  her  infancy,  God  had 
inspired  her  with  the  desire  to  part  from  the  world  by  be 
coming  a  Religious  ;  though  she  could  not  then  understand 
the  difference  between  living  in  the  world  and  in  the  monas 
tery.  Corresponding  faithfully  to  this  inspiration  by  the 
very  devout  life  which  we  have  thus  far  described,  she  had  deserved  that 
God  would  show  her,  with  a  brighter  light,  the  value  of  religious  life,  and, 
with  greater  impulses  to  her  heart,  excite  her  to  make  up  her  mind  to 
embrace  it.  Hence,  in  the  past  she  had  prudently  concealed  this  desire 
under  a  careful  silence,  as  a  thing  that  could  not  be  accomplished  at  so 
tender  an  age,  speaking  of  it  only  to  her  spiritual  father,  to  whom  she 
made  everything  clear.  Now,  however,  she  felt  ready  to  execute  the 
Divine  will,  which  corresponded  so  closely  to  her  own,  and  she  looked 
for  an  opportune  moment  in  which  to  speak  of  her  desire  to  her  parents. 
Though  they  could  not  but  have  taken  notice  of  such  a  disposition  in 
their  child,  yet,  she  being  their  only  daughter,  and  being  charmed 
by  her  character,  her  features,  and  her  noble  manners,  they  had  abso 
lutely  made  up  their  minds  to  have  her  married.  Without  anything 
else,  without  even  asking  her  once  about  it,  they  suggested  now  one 
party  and  now  another,  as  he  seemed  to  suit  better  the  virtues  of  their 
daughter  and  the  nobility  and  wealth  of  the  family.  In  the  meantime, 
to  cure  her  of  the  weakness  caused  by  the  harshness  of  her  penances 
and  the  austerity  of  her  fastings,  they  conducted  her  to  the  villa,  where 
her  health  was  restored  by  the  change  of  air,  restorative  medicines,  and 
nutritious  food.  Her  parents,  well  pleased  at  it,  returned  with  her  to 
Florence,  and  renewed  their  endeavors  towards  hastening  a  convenient 
occasion  for  the  proposed  marriage.  The  mother  of  the  marchioness, 
dexterously  and  without  showing  her  the  motive,  stimulated  her,  from 


time  to  time,  to  exquisiteness,  refinement,  and  sprightliness,  both  in  her 
manners  and  in  her  dress,  only  giving  as  reasons  therefor,  civility, 
honor,  family,  and  the  like,  which,  nevertheless,  savored  of  the  world. 
She,  though  unwillingly,  out  of  respect  and  obedience  to  her  mother, 
would,  to  some  extent,  concur  in  these  things.  But  God  wanted  her 
for  a  different  purpose,  and  wanted  her  soon.  Hence,  Catherine  was  no 
longer  capable  of  resisting  the  fire  of  Divine  love,  which  consumed  her 
with  the  desire  of  becoming  a  nun.  She  was  now  sixteen,  and,  as  she 
noticed  a  deep  silence  on  her  parents'  part,  she  became  prudently  suspi 
cious  lest  they  would  not  allow  her  to  become  a  nun,  as  she  was  passing 
the  age  when,  according  to  custom,  girls  are  wont  to  consecrate  them 
selves  to  God.  Therefore  she  opened  her  heart  to  her  spiritual  director, 
and  felt,  in  consequence  of  his  approval,  more  certain  of  the  will  of  God 
in  this,  her  insuperable  tendency. 

Not  long  afterwards  she  went  to  her  father  and  humbly  manifested 
to  him  her  deliberate  intention  of  becoming  a  nun,  and  begged  him, 
as  well  as  she  could,  to  be  pleased  with  it — nay,  to  help  her  to  carry  it 
out.  Her  father,  although  a  good  Christian,  yet  being  great  according 
to  the  world  and  penetrated  by  the  maxims  of  high  society,  could  not 
sufficiently  appreciate  those  greater  joys  the  soul  and  heart  of  his 
daughter  were  seeking  after.  He  consequently  looked  no  further  than 
to  the  high  standing  of  his  family,  and  ahnost  got  angry  at  the  determi 
nation  announced  to  him  by  Catherine.  He  told  her  abruptly  that  he 
was  far  from  seconding  her,  at  which  she,  finding  herself  in  danger 
either  of  disobeying  her  father  or  becoming  unworthy  of  God,  replied 
with  great  courage,  but  not  without  dutiful  respect,  that  she  would 
rather  let  her  head  be  cut  off  than  give  up  her  idea  of  becoming  a  nunr 
Her  father,  seeing  such  determination,  did  not  dare  to  repeat  his  refusal, 
but  sent  Catherine  to  her  mother,  who,  knowing  her  disposition  bettei 
and  having  more  intercourse  with  her,  he  thought,  would  perhaps  dis 
suade  her,  or  at  least  obtain  some  delay  which  might  serve  to  do  away 
altogether  with  her  fixed  purpose.  But  everything  was  useless,  as  Cath 
erine,  being  assured  of  God's  will  in  it,  had  already  put  away  every 
human  affection  and  consideration.  She  rightly  perceived  that  her 
mother's  tenderness  would  be  a  greater  obstacle  to  her  than  her  father's 
opposition,  hence  she  tried  with  all  strength  to  overcome  it,  making  use 
of  these  two  means :  First,  she  had  recourse  to  prayer,  fervently  begging 
of  the  Lord  to  be  pleased  to  take  from  her  mother's  heart  so  much  love 
for  her,  or  diminish  it  so  that  it  would  not  be  an  impediment  to  the 
entire  fulfillment  of  the  heavenly  decrees  concerning  her,  especially  in 
the  selecting  of  her  state  of  life;  and,  after  this,  she  began  to  uproot 
this  maternal  love,  practicing  every  art,  without  failing  in  the  honor  and 
respect  due  her,  so  that  her  mother  might  detach  her  affection  from  her. 
She  not  only  failed  to  please  her  in  ornamenting  and  dressing  herself 
as  her  mother  wished,  but  she  avoided  also,  as  much  as  she  could,  con 
versing  with  her.  When  she  was  obliged  to  be  in  society,  she  did  not 
deport  herself  with  her  previous  courtesy  and  cheerfulness,  but  with 
studied  rusticity  of  manner  and  always  appeared  afflicted  and  melancholy. 
Her  mother  did  not  yet  understand  from  whence  so  great  a  change  pro 
ceeded,  and  therefore  did  everything  to  make  her  affable  and  pleasant  as 


before.  She  caressed  her  with  increased  tenderness  and  showed  herself 
affectionate  to  her;  she  conversed  on  spiritual  subjects  according  to  her 
tastes,  questioned  her  about  her  meditations,  and  used  all  possible  means 
to  make  her  again  cheerful  and  content.  Catherine  resisted  with  virtuous 
indifference  all  these  new  incitements  of  the  maternal  love,  which  in 
effect  tended  to  imprison  her  more  safely  in  the  world;  for  which,  as 
she  afterwards  confessed  to  her  nuns,  she  suffered  doubly,  both  because 
this  proceeding  was  contrary  to  her  inclination  and  the  nature  of  her 
heart,  and  because,  loving  her  mother  tenderly,  she  regretted  very  much 
having  to  grieve  her  in  this  manner — hence  she  lived  in  a  state  of 
permanent  combat  with  herself.  She  also  feared  that  some  other  sudden 
storm  might  intervene  to  oppose  her  firm  purpose  of  consecrating 
herself  to  God  in  the  monastery.  Her  delicate  health  again  succumbed, 
because  of  so  great  and  so  many  distresses.  But  the  painful  experiment 
God  wanted  His  beloved  servant  to  undergo,  before  introducing  her  into 
the  garden  of  consolation,  was  near  its  end.  In  fact,  her  mother,  having 
found  out  the  cause  of  the  unusual  behavior  of  Catherine  and  her  suffer 
ings,  conferred  about  it  with  the  same  spiritual  father,  and  received  .from 
him  the  confirmation  of  the  truth.  She  became  solicitous  of  affording 
her  daughter  the  most  valid  comfort.  She  soon  called  her  to  herself, 
and  when  she  modestly  approached,  ignorant  of  the  cause  for  which  her 
mother  summoned  her,  she  did  not  dare  to  raise  her  eyes  from  the 
ground,  always  fearing  more  trouble  to  her  greatly  afflicted  soul.  The 
marchioness  did  not  remain  sitting  as  usual ;  but,  as  soon  as  her  daughter 
approached  her,  she  arose  to  embrace  her;  and,  in  a  rather  subdued 
tone,  assured  her  that  the  idea  of  giving  her  in  marriage  was 
altogether  gone  from  her  mind  and  that  of  her  father.  Nay,  they  were 
determined  fully  to  second  her  desire  of  becoming  a  nun.  If  she  would 
think  about  the  choice  of  the  monastery,  they  would  please  her  in  every 
thing.  She  would  thus  become  guarantrix  for  her  husband's  will,  as, 
since  he  had  entrusted  this  affair  to  her,  she  felt  sure  no  opposition 
would  come  from  him.  It  is  not  easy  to  imagine  how  pleased  Catherine 
was  at  this  news,  and  how  warmly  she  thanked  God  in  her  heart  for  it. 
In  all  her  actions  she  manifested  the  contentment  of  her  spirit.  She 
uttered  a  few  words  of  gratitude  in  answer  to  her  mother,  but,  being 
overcome  by  interior  delight,  she  was  unable  to  express  her  joy ;  and, 
having  taken  leave,  she  retired  to  a  dark  chamber,  where,  with  sighs 
and  tears  of  tenderness,  she  gave  way  somewhat  to  the  great  joy  by 
which  she  felt  herself  overwhelmed.  Then,  taking  a  respite,  she  showed 
herself  to  the  family  all  courteous  and  pleasant.  At  the  same  time,  she 
seriously  applied  herself  to  making  the  choice  of  the  monastery  that 
would  be  most  convenient  for  her ;  and  as  neither  by  the  coaxings  of 
her  parents,  nor  the  attachments  of  the  world,  nor  human  regrets,  had  she 
been  shaken  or  stopped  in  her  holy  resolution,  so,  in  this  choice,  she 
would  only  look  to  Heaven  for  light.  She  had  recourse  to  prayer,  the 
usual  manner  of  the  Saints  in  holding  converse  with  God  ;  she  doubled 
her  spiritual  exercises,  sure  means  of  securing  the  alliance  of  Heaven,  in 
order  to  know  the  place  in  which  God  wanted  her  heart  to  serve  Him. 
Such  being  her  tendency,  and  the  better  to  assure  herself  of  the  Divine 
will,  she  resolved  to  enter  a  monastery  where  community  life  would  be 


observed  in  retirement  and  complete  religious  observance.  She  wished 
to  be  a  nun ;  but  of  facts  and  works  ;  for  though  yet  in  the  world,  she 
well  understood  of  how  great  importance  for  all  in  a  religious  order 
these  requisites  are.  Looking  at  all  the  monasteries  then  existing  in 
Florence,  and  noting  in  each  the  reasons  for  and  against,  and  very  studi 
ously  looking  for  the  best,  her  thoughts  rested  on  three  of  them. 
Speaking  of  it  to  her  spiritual  father,  she  mentioned  them  to  him  with 
her  reasons.  One  was  the  monastery  of  the  Crocetta  ;  another,  of  St. 
Clara  ;  and  the  third,  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli.  In  the  first,  under  the 
patronage  of  the  glorious  St.  Dominic,  the  nuns  never  see,  and  are  never 
seen  by,  the  seculars  ;  in  the  second,  under  the  rule  of  St.  Francis,  they 
were  living  in  the  greatest  poverty  and  asperity  of  penances ;  and  in 
the  last  one  particular  attention  was  paid  to  interior  perfection,  and 
they  received  Holy  Communion  daily — a  rare  thing  in  those  times.  Her 
desires  were  captivated  by  every  one  of  these  holy  places.  She  also 
greatly  desired  to  withdraw  bodily  from  the  world  as  much  as  possible, 
as  she  was  entirely  detached  therefrom  in  her  soul ;  and,  therefore,  she 
wished  very  much  never  to  see,  nor  to  be  seen  by,  the  world.  To  live 
a  despised  and  abject  life,  and  to  suf  •  for  God's  love,  was  a  very  strong 
craving  of  her  heart,  which  would  .iave  wished  to  suffer  everything 
for  the  sake  of  her  crucified  Spouse.  Her  hunger  for  the  eucharistic 
food  attracted  her  with  inexpressible  force,  because  by  means  of  it  she 
could  foster,  with  her  Divine  Spouse,  the  purity  of  the  soul,  and  with 
paradisiacal  husbandry  adorn  it  with  various  flowers  of  religious  per 
fection.  Thus  were  the  affections  of  Catherine  divided ;  and  continuing 
to  present  the  reasons  for  each  to  her  spiritual  director,  it  seemed  as  if 
all  the  religious  requirements  she  loved  and  admired  in  the  other  two 
were  united  and  combined  in  the  monastery  of  St.  Maria  degli  Angeli; 
hence,  without  any  further  delay,  moved  also  by  a  ray  of  heavenly  light, 
she  resolved  to  consecrate  herself  entirely  to  God  in  the  last  named. 
The  community  life  which  was  practiced  in  very  rigorous  perfection, 
obliging  the  members  to  live  in  true  religious  poverty  and  subjection; 
the  retirement  from  the  gratings  and  the  few  visits  from  seculars ;  the 
assiduous  application  of  mind  to  celestial  things,  a  primary  characteristic 
of  the  Carmelite  Order ;  the  frequenting  of  the  Most  Holy  Sacrament, 
by  which  those  holy  souls  became  adorned  with  singular  perfections, 
rendered  the  above  monastery — degli  Angeli — a  model  for  virgins  dedi 
cated  to  the  Lord  God. 

Having  told  her  parents  of  the  choice  of  the  monastery,  they 
applied  themselves  to  the  obtaining  of  due  approbation  from  the 
ordinary;  and  this  obtained,  and  having  prepared  everything  else  for 
the  purpose,  they  took  her  directly  to  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli,  in 
Borgo  San  Frediano,  in  order  that  she  might  there  make  her  first  trial 
for  the  space  of  ten  days,  according  to  the  practice  and  the  order  of  the 
superiors.  Being  introduced  there,  she  was  welcomed  with  great 
pleasure  by  the  nuns.  According  to  their  rules,  she  was  given  in  charge 
of  those  who  dealt  with  the  strangers — that  is,  those  whose  office  it  was 
to  guard  and  direct  the  seculars  who  entered  on  trial.  They,  watching 
very  closely  the  qualities,  the  inclinations,  the  words,  and  the  deport 
ment  of  Catherine,  soon  wondered  at  the  perfections  with  which  she 

Being  rapt  in  ecstasy  at  a  very  tender  age,  she  is  discovered  by 
her  parents  (page  15). 


was  enriched,  and  esteemed  hers  to  be  more  than  ordinary  goodness. 
From  the  modesty  of  her  discourse,  the  gravity  of  her  behavior,  the 
humility  and  purity  of  her  bearing,  the  respect  and  submission  she 
manifested  for  all,  they  were  able  to  bear  the  best  testimony  to  the 
confessor  and  the  rest  of  the  nuns  that  she  was  not  only  worthy  and 
deserving  of  their  habit,  but  they  should  very  much  wish  and  yearn  for 
the  acquisition  of  a  girl  of  such  noble  and  distinct  prerogatives  of  blood, 
education,  and  most  perfect  virtues.  They  related  having  observed  in 
her  in  a  very  special  manner  the  excessive  desire  to  become  a  Religions, 
and  her  stability  and  assiduous  frequency  at  prayer.  Some  remarked 
that  while  praying  she  would  not  move  in  the  least,  and  that  from  such 
immobility  it  was  easy  to  perceive  how  highly  fixed  in  God  her  soul 
was,  and  how  she  was  already  wonderfully  habituated  to  it.  In  the  mon 
astery,  as  under  the  paternal  roof,  she  would  arise  early  in  the  morning 
and  immediately  go  to  the  choir,  to  remain  there  for  one  hour  in  serious 
meditation;  and  throughout  the  day,  whenever  possible,  she  would 
very  gladly  return  to  the  same  exercise.  From  her  constancy  in  prayer, 
and  from  the  light  she  manifested  about  the  spiritual  life,  and  from  her 
esteem  for  the  religious  exercises,  the  mother — Sister  Vangelista  del 
Giocondo — was  induced  to  make  an  experiment  on  the  .spirit  of 
Catherine,  who,  although  a  girl  of  only  sixteen  years,  an  age  when 
nature  generally  shows  more  liveliness,  yet  seemed  so  advanced  in 
perfection  as  to  be  a  woman  in  years.  To  ascertain  whether  this 
assiduity  at  prayer  proceeded  from  her  own  will,  or  was  joined  to 
some  human  complacency  or  sensible  delight,  she  told  her  that  if  she 
would  receive  the  habit  of  a  nun  she  could  not  recite  the  prayers 
she  did  when  secular,  and  that  she  would  be  bound  to  conform  with  the 
others  to  the  practices  of  the  community.  To  which  she  promptly 
replied:  "  Mother,  this  does  not  trouble  me  in  the  least,  because  I  know 
that  all  things  done  in  obedience  to  religion  are  prayers."  The  vener 
able  mother  had  no  reply  to  make,  and  was  sufficiently  informed  of  how 
enlightened  in  the  ways  of  God  this  good  child  was,  and  how  detached 
from  her  own  will,  and,  therefore,  most  suitable  for  religion.  Catherine 
gave  also  a  solemn  proof  of  her  mortification,  and  the  mastership  she 
held  over  her  senses  and  her  whole  self  in  this  regard.  One  day,  finding 
herself  with  the  other  nuns  in  the  workhall,  some  things  suddenly  fell, 
making  so  great  a  noise  that  all  the  nuns  were  greatly  frightened,  shf 
alone  did  not  even  raise  her  head  or  turn  her  eyes  to  see  what  hnr 
happened,  thus  restraining  in  an  exemplary  manner  the  curiosity  c 
apprehension  which  generally,  in  such  cases,  possesses  every  person, 
especially  if  a  woman  and  inexperienced  on  account  of  her  youthful 
age.  Therefore,  because  of  all  these  exterior  qualities,  which  were 
a  sure  earnest  of  her  sublime  interior  perfection,  the  nuns,  by  unani 
mous  consent,  not  only  judged  her  worthy  of  their  order,  but  eagerly 
wished  for  her,  and  regarded  it  as  a  most  singular  favor  of  Heaven  to 
have  her  among  them.  Therefore,  all  hailed  her  with  great  joy  as 
their  sister  in  Jesus  Christ,  who  would  receive  the  veil  in  their  mon 
astery,  at  the  time  they  would  appoint,  with  the  permission  of  their 

In  these  few  days  Catherine  observed  diligently  the  orders  and  the 

32  "THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS  OF 

mode  of  life  of  the  monastery,  read  the  rules  and  the  constitution,  and 
accurately  took  notice  of  how  they  were  obeyed.  She  was  so  well  sat 
isfied  and  pleased  with  everything  that  she  could  not  wish  for  anything 
more;  and  having  conceived  so  high  an  opinion  of  the  nuns  that  she 
reputed  herself  unworthy  to  live  with  them,  she  said,  through  her 
humility,  that  she  would  have  been  pleased  to  be  the  lowest  menial  in  the 
monastery.  The  nuns  therefore  longing  for  her,  and  she  being  highly 
pleased  with  their  goodness  and  exactitude  in  obeying  the  rules,  she 
would  have  become  a  nun  at  once,  but  by  the  disposition  of  her  parents 
and  the  prudent  custom  of  the  monastery  she  returned  for  a  short  time 
to  her  father's  palace. 





.THERINE  DE-PAZZI  was  pointed  out  by  mothers  of  fami 
lies  as  a  model  to  their  daughters,  when  they  were  carried  away 
and  hallucinated  by  vanity,  whilst,  through  her  simple  way 
of  dressing,  ornaments  of  a  higher  value  were  shining  out. 
Virtue  puts  on  no  other  dress  than  that  of  modesty  and 
simplicity,  because  it  has  no  need  of  borrowed  lustre.  In 
those  who  desire  to  follow  Jesus  Christ  the  wish  to  orna 
ment  the  person  cannot  exist.  Dress  was  introduced  as  a 
shield  from  the  severity  of  the  seasons  and  as  a  help  to  modesty.  To 
depart  from  this  principle,  immovably  based  on  natural  rectitude,  is 
to  fall  into  illusion  and  hypocrisy ;  and  it  is  for  this  reason  that  the  grand 
world  of  to-day  appears  to  be  and  is  in  truth  a  theatre  of  falsehoods. 
Those  polishings  in  the  habiliment,  especially  in  the  female  sex;  those 
insatiable  yearnings  for  the  fashions,  for  the  newest  and  best  style;  those 
anvcted  tendernesses  and  wantonnesses  in  words  and  actions,  are  but  the 
signs  of  a  deceitful  and  foolish  spirit.  The  audacity  with  which  some 
cover  themselves  with  a  seducing  display,  even  in  the  church,  which 
is  the  asylum  of  innocence  and  piety,  where  everything  inspires  com 
punction  and  reminds  us  of  the  solemn  promises  made  at  our  baptism — 
this  is,  to  say  the  least,  an  indication  of  corruption,  unless  we  call  it  an 
indication  of  a  faith  nearly  extinguished.  Hence,  before  leaving  the 
secular  life  of  Catherine,  let  noble  maids  especially  consider  for  a  while 
how  she  acted  in  it,  and  let  them  not  bring  forth,  as  a  pretext  for  not 
imitating  her,  new  reasons  of  social  convenience;  because  a  Christian's 
principles  admit  of  no  exception  of  person  and  submit  not  to  the  whim 
sical  changes  of  the  world. 

Catherine,  then,  imbued  with  the  supreme  truth,  even  from  her 
childhood  always  greatly  abhorred  everything  that  savored  of  worldly 
ornament — always  refused  to  adorn  herself  with  jewels,  rich  apparel, 
embellishment  of  face,  and  affected  hair-dressing ;  and  in  nothing  was 
she  so  restive  in  obeying  her  mother  as  in  fixing  her  hair  and  dressing 
as  became  her.  She  loved  a  modest  and  simple  appearance,  would  not 
have  silk  dresses,  nor  too  showy  ones.  She  put  on  costumes  of  inferior 
quality,  without  any  ornament,  and  always  appeared  as  a  poor  working 
girl  rather  than  a  rich  gentlewoman.  Neither  did  she  care  to  go  abroad 

34  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

to  festivals,  or  tournaments,  or  other  shows  of  the  world;  nay,  she  so 
wearied  of  them  that,  although  her  residence  was  at  the  corner  called 
De-Pazzi,  where  the  horse-races  were  held,  and  though  it  was  at  these 
times  rilled  with  gentlewomen  who  wished  to  see  them,  she  knew  so  well 
how  to  mortify  herself  that  during  all  the  time  she  was  a  secular  she 
never  once  looked  out  of  the  window  on  such  a  noisy  occasion— a  thing 
truly  worthy  of  admiration  in  a  girl.  The  abuse  of  the  world  in  adorn 
ing  the  new  brides  of  Jesus  Christ  like  earthly  brides  with  excessive  arti 
fices,  and  taking  them,  as  to  a  scene  of  pomp,  to  promenades,  vain  enter 
tainments,  theatres,  and  other  worldly  allurements  was  despised  by  Cath 
erine,  who  used  to  say  she  could  not  understand  how  girls  could  have  a 
desire  to  be  religious  and  brides  of  Jesus,  and  yet  enjoy  seeing  themselves 
and  being  seen  vainly  ornamented.  So,  when  her  mother,  soon  after  tak 
ing  her  from  the  monastery  of  St.  Giovannino  de'  Cavalieri,  made  her  a 
white  silk  dress,  even  though  it  was  simple  in  style  and  without  any 
gold  or  silver,  she  had  great  difficulty  in  persuading  Catherine  to  put  it 
on.  All  the  day  on  which,  out  of  obedience  to  her  mother,  she  wore  it, 
she  wept  copiously.  On  being  asked  the  reason,  she  answered :  "  Because 
it  becomes  not  a  girl  who  dedicates  herself  to  God,  to  dress  so  as  to 
become  conspicuous  in  the  eyes  of  His  creatures. "  And  she  would  add  no 
other  ornament  to  it  afterwards.  If  she  condescended  to  keep  that  silk 
dress,  it  was  because  of  its  simplicity  of  workmanship,  and  because  in 
its  whiteness  it  offered  her  the  symbol  of  holy  purity.  From  this  fact 
originated  the  custom  of  those  girls  expecting  to  receive  the  habit  in 
her  order,  who,  in  the  interval  when  they  remain  in  the  world  before 
entering  the  cloister,  absolutely  refuse  vain  ornaments,  dressing  in  a 
modest  manner,  and  appear,  the  day  they  exchange  the  world's  goods 
for  the  blessed  poverty  of  Religion,  before  the  priest  in  a  white  dress 
similar  to  that  which  was  presented  to  their  holy  mother  when  she 
received  the  habit  of  the  Carmelite  Religious.  Neither  did  she  distract 
herself  in  secular  visits  nor  feed  on  worldly  sceneries  before  she  entered 
the  sacred  enclosure,  but  only  visited  religious  places  and  devout 
persons,  to  whose  prayers  she  earnestly  recommended  herself.  And 
curiosity  about  the  furnishings,  or  anxiety  about  those  things  which  of 
necessity  she  had  to  bring  along,  did  not  distract  her.  She  left  the  care 
of  all  this  to  her  mother,  without  even  selecting  or  seeing  anything,  her 
thought  and  her  affection  being  solely  occupied  in  hastening  her  with 
drawal  from  the  world,  wholly  to  unite  herself  to  her  Spouse  Jesus. 
Let  this  be  an  example  also  to  those  girls  who,  in  becoming  nuns, 
though  they  have  a  real  vocation  for  the  life,  show  themselves  anxious 
to  have  an  abundant  and  suitable  equipment,  either  for  their  own 
pleasure  or  lest  they  appear  more  humble  than  others  in  Religion. 







|N  the  Saturday  previous  to  the  First  Sunday  in  Advent,  in 
the  year  1582,  which  was  the  first  day  of  December,  Cath 
erine  bade  that  long-wished-for  adieu  to  the  world  and 
entered,  rejoicing,  the  centre  of  her  rest,  her  paradise  on 
earth — the  monastery  of  St.  Maria  degli  Angel i,  of  the 
Sacred  Order  of  the  Carmel,  in  Borgo  San  Frediano,  which 
was  afterwards  transferred,  as  it  exists  to-day,  to  the  Borgo 
di  Pinti.1  Before  leaving  her  father's  house,  she  knelt  at  her 
parents'  feet,  asking  forgiveness  of  them  for  anything  displeasing  to  them 
she  might  have  done  during  the  whole  of  her  tender  life,  and  earnestly 
begged  that  they  would  impart  to  her  their  parental  blessing.  With  tears 
of  true  love,  she  was  blessed — not  forgiven,  though,  for  she  had  never 
been  guilty  of  any  fault.  She  also  took  leave  of  her  other  relations  and 
some  persons  who,  on  account  of  particular  friendship,  frequently  visited 
the  house,  and,  finally,  of  all  the  servants  of  the  house,  speaking  to  every 
one  words  of  respect,  of  humility,  of  prayer.  In  this  last  separation  the 
strength  of  grace  and  divine  love  became  more  manifest  in  her.  Amidst 
the  tears  of  her  parents  and  the  manifestations  of  sorrow  from  her  rela 
tions  and  the  servants,  Catherine  bore  herself  with  such  fortitude  of  spirit 
and  firmness  of  countenance,  that  she  seemed  not  to  feel  it.  This  could 
not  have  been  the  case  with  that  heart  so  gentle  and  loving,  if  the 
strength  of  divine  charity  had  not  wholly  mastered  her. 

Thus  having  secured  victory  over  all  earthly  affections,  she  was 
received  by  the  nuns  at  this  second  and  final  entrance  with  those  senti 
ments  with  which  they  were  inspired  by  the  general  opinion  they  enter 
tained  of  her  and  the  trial  they  had  made  of  her  singular  virtues  during 
the  few  days  of  her  first  stay  with  them.  For  some  reason,  not  unusual 
in  such  cases,  she  did  not  take  the  religious  habit  until  the  following 
January.  In  the  meantime,  God  desired  from  her  another  proof  of  her 
contempt  for  the  vanities  of  the  world.  Whilst  she,  with  all  the  affec 
tion  and  pleasure  of  her  heart,  was  preparing  to  be  received  into  the  Order, 

1  Public  improvements  have  since  made  necessary  its  removal  to  the  Piazza  Savona 
rola,  \vhere  a  new  monastery  has  been  built. 

36  THE   UFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

she  had  to  endure  the  temptation  of  vainglory.  Her  parents,  as  good 
Christians,  and  in  order  not  to  oppose  the  divine  will,  so  clearly  mani 
fested,  submitted  to  the  sacrifice,  most  painful  to  their  hearts,  of  conse 
crating  their  only  daughter  forever  to  God.  They  had  entertained  such 
delightful  hopes  of  seeing  her  married  into  one  of  the  most  prominent 
families  and  one  day  hearing  her  praised  as  a  model  among  the  mothers 
of  families  and  the  most  noble  matrons.  Ordinarily,  the  perfection  of 
the  secular,  especially  if  persons  of  wealth,  does  not  go  beyond  the  letter 
of  the  divine  precepts.  The  spirit  which  animates  the  word  is  not  pene 
trated  by  them.  The  evangelical  counsels  are  a  superfluity  for  them. 
Yet,  would  to  God  that  all  would  fulfill  to  the  letter  what  is  prescribed 
by  the  divine  precepts ! 

Catherine's  parents  still  cherished  an  ardent  love  for  her,  hence  her 
absence  caused  them  great  pain ;  arid,  in  some  measure  to  alleviate  their 
grief,  they  resolved  to  have  her  portrait  at  home.  The  prioress  of  the 
monastery,  on  being  asked,  did  not  oppose  a  wish  so  natural  to  the 
hearts  of  a  father  and  mother,  so  that,  appointing  the  day,  the  famous 
painter,  Santi  di  Tito,  repaired  to  the  monastery  in  order  to  paint  Cath 
erine's  portrait.  When  she  heard  this,  as  she  was  penetrated  deeply  by 
the  spirit  of  perfection,  she  cried  exceedingly,  and  would  in  no  way 
submit  to  it.  Being  asked  the  reason  for  such  a  firm  refusal,  she  replied: 
"I  came  out  of  the  world  to  return  to  it  no  more,  and  not  to  be  seen  in 
these  dresses  again."  It  would  have  been  impossible  to  obtain  her  con 
sent  had  not  the  orders  of  the  superioress  and  her  father  confessor 
obliged  her  to  give  it.  Through  obedience  alone,  then,  she  submitted 
to  it.  During  the  time  that  Santi  di  Tito,  with  his  colors,  was  bringing 
her  back  to  the  midst  of  the  world,  she  was  constantly  weeping  and 
lamenting  with  these  words  of  humility :  u  Is  it  possible  that  of  a  creature 
so  vile  as  I  am,  and  of  a  handful  of  dust,  a  remembrance  will  remain  in 
the  world?"  This  occurrence,  however,  did  not  distract  her  from  the 
fervent  preparation  in  which  she  was  then  occupied  for  the  reception  of 
the  sacred  habit.  Her  parents  obtained  in  her  portrait  the  only  possible 
satisfaction  which  could  be  granted  to  them.  They  held  it  very  dear, 
recommended  it  to  their  survivors,  and  the  latter  to  their  successors ;  so 
that  it  is  preserved  even  to-day,  in  the  same  distinguished  family,  as  a 
relic  of  great  veneration,  of  great  glory,  and  of  the  truest  affection.  Of 
this  family  I  only  said  a  few  words  in  the  beginning,  to  describe  the 
it'ition  and  early  education  of  Catherine;  I  will  not  fail  to  return  to 
,t  at  an  opportune  point  with  a  more  extended  notice. 

Catherine  was  more  and  more  animated  by  contempt  of  the  world 
and  love  of  God  during  the  days  that  followed.  Until  she  received  the 
re^gious  habit  she  remained  in  the  department  of  strangers,  renouncing 
the  customary  pastimes  and  worldly  visits  which  are  permitted  in  the 
monasteries  to  those  who  are  about  to  receive  the  habit  of  nuns.  On 
the  day  before  receiving  the  habit,  particularly,  she  would  not  go  down 
to  the  gratings,  and  the  superioress  did  not  order  her  to  the  contrary.  She 
spent  the  entire  day  in  fervent  prayer,  meditating  on  the  great  work  which, 
with  sovereign  charity,  by  the  goodness  of  God  it  was  granted  her  to 
undertake.  To  her  relations  and  others  who,  out  of  courtesy  or  because 
of  great  attachment,  came  to  visit  her,  she  sent  a  message  by  the  mis- 


tress  that  such  a  day  was  not  to  be  spent  at  the  gratings  nor  in  prattling; 
therefore,  they  had  to  depart  without  seeing  her.  She  would  not  even  look 
at  anything  that  was  sent  to  her.  Having  spent  the  night  in  spiritual 
contemplation  rather  than  in  bodily  rest,  the  following  morning,  with  that 
fervor  and  recollection  which  one  can  imagine  from  what  we  have  thus 
far  narrated,  she  received  sacramentally  her  Divine  Spouse  Jesus;  and, 
remaining  immovable  and  penetrated  by  a  deep  feeling  of  gratitude  till 
the  moment  of  the  sacred  ceremony,  she  experienced  in  it  one  of  her 
dearest  consolations — nay,  the  greatest  of  her  whole  life.  After  the 
celebration  of  Holy  Mass  by  the  father  confessor  of  the  monastery,  Rev. 
Agostino  Campi,  the  ceremony  of  giving  the  habit  was  immediately 
performed  by  him,  according  to  the  rubrics  and  the  custom  of  the 
Order.  The  promptness,  the  joy,  the  devotion,  the  sublime  affection 
that  were  noticed  in  Catherine's  manner  and  behavior  during  this  cere 
mony  drew  the  admiration  and  the  tenderness  of  those  present,  even  to 
making  them  shed  tears.  There  was  a  girl  in  particular,  who,  at  the 
sight,  wished  immediately  to  give  up  worldly  ornaments,  and,  following 
Catherine's  example,  put  on  the  simple  religious  garb.  That  this  wish 
did  not  proceed  from  the  ordinary  volubility  of  imagination  in  women, 
but  really  from  the  impulse  of  divine  grace,  which  offered  to  that  girl 
the  means  to  obtain  her  own  best  interest,  was  shown  by  the  fact  that, 
shortly  afterwards,  she  became  a  nun  and  a  companion  of  Catherine's  in 
the  same  habit  and  monastery. 

Though  the  ceremony  was  a  long  one,  the  newly-made  bride  never 
once  turned  her  eyes  to  satisfy  the  natural  curiosity  of  seeing  who  had  come 
to  the  church.  She  remained  so  imbued  with  holy  thoughts,  that  even 
to  those  who  assisted  her  in  taking  off  the  secular  dress  and  putting  on 
the  habit  given  her  by  the  priest,  she  seemed  as  if  alienated  from  her 
senses.  Consequently,  they  felt  an  embarrassment  in  touching  her,  fear 
ing  that  they  would  cause  her  pain  by  thus  distracting  her.  After  she 
had  become  a  nun,  she  said  to  some  of  her  devout  companions  that  when 
the  confessor  put  the  crucifix  in  her  hands,  the  sisters  singing  "  Mihi 
absit  gloriari  nisi  in  Critce  Domini  nostri  Jesu  Chris ti" — u  But  God  for 
bid  that  I  should  glory,  save  in  the  Cross  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ " 
(Galat.  vi,  14) — she  felt  her  soul  become  united  to  Jesus  with  such  a  force 
of  love  and  sweetness  of  spirit,  that  it  was  a  miracle  that  her  body  did 
not  succumb  from  the  separation.  With  a  renewal  of  grateful  protesta 
tions,  of  loyal  and  spiritual  offerings,  her  heart  completed  this  cere 
mony  with  God.  Now  we  shall  no  more  see  the  maid  who  had  to  fight 
at  least  the  fickleness  of  the  world  and  of  nobility ;  we  shall  no  more 
see  Catherine,  but  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  thus  newly  baptized  and 
dressed  in  a  habit  wholly  of  God. 

To  pursue  my  object,  which  is  to  lead  the  reader  from  time  to  time 
to  make  those  reflections  which  may  be  profitable  to  both  his  mind  and 
heart,  I  would  like  to  show  here  a  little  of  the  importance  and  value 
implied  in  this  passing  from  the  world  to  a  religious  order.  It  is  of 
no  use  to  describe  the  value  and  efficacy  of  this  new  baptism  to  worldly 
souls,  who,  if  not  all,  certainly  for  the  most  part,  regard  the  religious 
vocation  as  a  choice  of  caprice,  of  egotism,  or,  at  the  best,  of  a  naturally 
pious  tendency.  They  do  not  realize  what  the  effect  is  to  a  human  soul 

38  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

of  feeling  its  body  clad  in  a  habit  which,  in  quality,  color,  shape,  uni 
formity,  in  everything,  inspires  most  significant  ideas.  This  total  cut 
ting  off  from  the  world — nay,  this  stamping  on  the  world — that  is,  on 
all  its  regards,  on  all  its  maxims,  its  falsehoods,  its  ribaldries,  its  abuse 
of  power  ;  this  finding  of  oneself  protected  by  four  walls,  which  form  the 
true  home  of  the  Saints,  always  being  a  sister  or  brother  to  every 
body  for  the  love  of  Jesus  Christ,  but  without  any  capricious  love  of 
the  flesh ;  this  victory  over  the  three  capital  enemies  of  the  soul, 
which  brings  back  human  nature  to  its  true  liberty  and  dignity 
— all  this  is  not  truly  understood  except  by  those  whom  God  has 
admitted  into  a  cloister  to  enjoy  such  privileges.  I  can  only  repeat 
to  them  St.  Paul's  exhortation — namely,  worthily  to  proceed  in  their 
vocation  lest  they  render  it  useless.  The  people  of  the  world,  in  pur 
suing  with  hatred  those  who  follow  the  Gospel,  may  only  do  so  on  account 
of  their  own  wickedness,  according  to  the  solemn  sentence  of  Jesus 

Having  made  some  instruments  of  penance,  she  put  them  on  when 
going  to  bed  (  page  17). 







|F  the  joy  of  Mary  Magdalen  in  receiving  the  religious  habit 
was  great,  no  less  great  was  the  perfection  and  the  sanctity 
which  she  manifested  during  her  novitiate,  to  the  amaze 
ment  of  all  the  nuns  and  her  spiritual  father,  who  acknowl 
edged  her  as  a  perfect  religious,  even  from  the  beginning  of 
her  probation.  Sister  Victoria  Contugi,  a  nun  of  no  ordi 
nary  virtue,  used  to  say  that  Sister  Maria  Maddalena  should 
have  been  her  mistress  rather  than  her  no  vice,  as  she  noticed 
in  her  so  great  a  perfection  that  most  willingly  she  would  have  subjected 
herself  to  her  as  a  disciple.  On  the  day  of  her  taking  the  habit,  Mary 
Magdalen  fell  at  the  feet  of  this  sister — her  mistress — and,  in  an  act  of 
humility  and  sincere  affection,  wholly  resigned  herself  to  her  will.  She 
told  her  that  she  gave  herself  to  her  as  dead,  and,  therefore,  she  should  do 
with  her  what  she  pleased,  because  she  was  most  ready  to  obey  her  in 
everything.  She  begged  of  her  to  humiliate  and  mortify  her,  without 
any  consideration,  whenever  God  inspired  her  to  do  so.  She  afterwards 
renewed  this  act  of  humble  and  entire  resignation  into  the  hands  of 
Sister  Vangelista  del  Giocondo,  who  succeeded  said  Sister  Victoria  in  the 
office  of  mistress  of  novices.  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  even  before 
entering  the  novitiate  or  being  instructed  in  it  by  cloistered  persons, 
well  knew,  as  we  have  hinted  above,  that  religious  perfection  does  not 
consist  in  protracting  prayers,  multiplying  penances  and  fasts,  or  dis 
tinguishing  oneself  in  works  of  singular  virtues,  but  rather  in  the  exact 
observance  of  the  rules,  and  the  faithful  execution  of  everything  else 
prescribed  by  the  voice  of  the  superiors,  as  the  most  safe  oracle  of  the 
divine  will.  Therefore,  not  only  did  she  never  oppose  any  orders  of  her 
mistresses — not  only  did  she  most  promptly  obey  their  every  wish,  but 
rather  most  judiciously  tried  to  anticipate  their  will,  so  that  often  she 
was  more  prompt  in  obeying  than  they  in  signifying  their  intention.  As 
to  the  faultlessness  with  which  she  obeyed  her  mistresses  of  the  novitiate, 
suffice  it  to  say  that,  no  matter  what  diligence  they  employed,  they  as 
serted  that  they  could  not  find  out  the  things  which  Mary  Magdalen 
liked  or  those  for  which  she  felt  repugnance.  She  was  young  and  of 
such  an  ingenuous  character  as  to  easily  manifest  itself,  especially  when 
under  the  assiduous  vigilance  of  persons  whose  duty  it  was  to  watch  the 
simplest  word  from  those  novices  under  their  care.  During  the 
novitiate,  too,  the  simplest  tendencies  are  remarked ;  therefore,  one  can 
judge  whether  more  can  be  said  of  the  renouncement  and  submission  of 


our  Saint's  will.  And  to  this  submission  is  chiefly  due  the  observance 
of  the  rules,  to  which  she  conformed  even  to  being  scrupulous.  There 
was  not  a  rule  among  them,  even  trifling  as  it  might  be,  that  she  did 
not  appreciate  or  obey  ;  and,  with  equal  perfection,  she  venerated  and 
observed  also  those  practices  of  supererogation  she  found  in  use  in  the 
community.  Every  day  she  read  and  studied  some  point  of  the  rules 
and  constitution  of  the  monastery,  that  she  might  fully  and  firmly  keep 
it  in  her  memory.  For  greater  facility,  she  would  often  ask  her  com 
panions  to  remind  her  of  the  duties  and  customs  of  their  order,  and  if' 
they  noticed  her  failing,  to  use  with  her  the  great  charity  of  warning 
and  correcting  her.  On  account  of  her  evident  and  exceeding  fondness 
for  prayer,  her  mistress  would  sometimes  give  her  liberty  to  retire  to 
pray  at  those  times  when  the  novices  had  to  be  occupied  in  manual 
exercises.  She  would  not  use  such  permission,  protesting  that  she 
would  rather  be  employed  in  any  work  determined  by  obedience  than  in 
the  most  sublime  contemplation  of  her  own  choice  ;  because,  in  fulfilling 
the  obligation  of  religion  and  obedience,  she  was  sure  of  doing  the  will 
of  God ;  but  not  so  in  the  prayers  and  other  exercises,  though  good  and 
holy,  chosen  by  her  own  will.  She  said  :  "  If  I  would  pray  well  at  the 
times  permitted  by  the  religion  it  would  not  be  little. "  Lowly  and  menial 
occupations  were  her  delight,  and  she  was  the  first  to  submit  to  the  most 
laborious  ones.  The  more  austere  and  heavy  they  were,  the  lighter  and 
sweeter  they  seemed  to  her.  As  a  combined  exercise  of  humility  and 
charity  to  the  lay-novices  who  were  especially  entrusted  with  keeping 
the  novitiate  in  order,  she  used  to  try  and  lighten  the  weight  of  their 
labor.  Sometimes  she  would  secretly  take  the  linens  they  had  to  cleanse, 
and  wash  them  ;  sometimes  she  would  sweep  the  corridors,  the  dormitory, 
and  the  other  places  of  the  novitiate  for  them ;  sometimes  she  would 
clean  the  lamps  and  make  the  beds  ;  in  a  word,  she  would  do  everything 
she  could  to  help  others,  considering  herself  the  least  of  all,  greatly  rejoicing 
to  become  a  servant  to  the  others.  With  this  same  feeling  of  charity  and 
humility  she  preferred  to  converse  with  the  novices  who  were  most  igno 
rant  and  least  talented,  choosing  for  herself  the  lowest  place  among  them. 
Even  here  she  judged  herself  the  most  lowly  and  least  fit  for  Religion. 
She  tried  to  learn  something  to  her  benefit  from  all,  and  would  accept 
advice  and  admonition  from  everyone,  not  only  writh  serenity,  but  with  acts 
of  thanksgiving  and  gratitude ;  and  to  obtain  it,  she  very  often  prayerfully 
urged  her  mistress  and  even  her  companions  in  the  novitiate.  She  always 
showed  herself  undisturbed  in  her  peace,  and,  as  she  wished  all  the 
others  to  be  so,  she  became  comfort,  help,  and  consolation  to  them  in 
their  times  of  sadness.  What  she  observed  in  others  she  always  inter 
preted  in  the  best  sense ;  and,  if  sometimes  anybody's  defect  would 
appear  too  evident,  she  rather  used  the  oil  of  gentleness  and  prudence 
than  the  vinegar  of  backbiting.  Her  conversation  was  such  an 
efficacious  spiritual  lesson  to  the  other  novices — her  discourses,  illus 
trated  by  ideas  of  the  eternal  life,  penetrated  the  heart  so  deeply,  and  her 
words  were  uttered  with  such  fiery  zeal,  that  she  inflamed  the  lily- like 
hearts  of  those  virgins  with  a  great  love  for  God,  and  an  ardent  desire 
to  please  Him.  The  novitiate  thus  became  like  a  paradise  of  angels  on 
earth.  This  light  and  these  flames  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  dazzled 


almost  instantaneously  and  miraculously  the  hearts  of  those  girls  who 
used  to  go  and  see  the  monastery  with  a  desire  of  becoming  nuns. 
Without  knowing  her,  they  became  attached  to  her,  regarding  her  as 
an  angel  in  'the  flesh,  and  wished  not  to  have  to  part  from  her  any 
more.  The  virtues  of  the  other  novices  emanated  in  some  measure  from 
the  perfection  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen — let  us  freely  call  her  Saint,  as  she 
already  truly  was,  even  from  that  time — hence,  she  shone  above  all ;  and 
everybody,  with  the  greatest  veneration,  stood  gazing  at  her  example. 
These  efficacious  influences,  then,  had  their  origin  in  that  familiarity 
with  prayer  by  which  she  remained  united  to  God  in  love,  so  strongly 
and  constantly,  that  no  occurrence,  however  strange,  could  attract 
her  from  it  for  the  shortest  time.  If,  awhile  ago,  we  saw  her  pre 
ferring  manual  work  to  the  retirement  of  prayer,  we  must  not  think 
that  on  that  account  she  would  be  distracted  from  the  holy  exercise  of 
interior  recollection.  She  well  knew  how  to  couple  the  active  with  the 
contemplative  life.  Moreover,  she  was  so  industrious  in  cultivating  her 
spirit  that,  having  completed  the  manual  and  the  charitable  exercises, 
she  would  spend  in  prayer  all  the  remaining  time  which  was  freely 
given  to  the  novices  for  their  recreation.  Not  satisfied  with  this,  she 
would  steal  some  hours  from  her  sleep.  Having  no  permission  from 
her  mistress  to  arise  in  the  night  at  unusual  hours,  she  would  place  her 
self  on  her  knees  on  the  bed,  in  which  position  she  was  often  found, 
and  there,  hiding  her  singular  devotion,  and  rejoicing  more  in  being  than 
only  appearing  pious  and  devout,  would  give  vent  in  some  manner  to  that 
divine  flame  which  was  burning  within  her  breast,  and  of  which,  even 
from  this  time  of  her  novitiate,  God  willed  that  all  the  nuns  should  have 
an  undoubted  evidence.  During  Advent,  one  evening,  this  incident 
occurred :  Our  Saint  having  remained  alone  in  the  oratory,  after  the  prayers 
in  company  with  the  novices,  she  became  so  red  and  inflamed  in  the  face 
that  she  seemed  to  be  burning  with  a  most  scorching  fever,  and,  as  if 
frantic,  could  find  no  means  to  calm  herself.  She  unfastened  and  vio 
lently  tore  her  dress,  as  if  to  make  an  opening  for  the  interior  fire  to  escape, 
seeming  to  be  consumed  and  melting  away.  On  the  mistress'  noticing  it, 
and  calling  the  other  nuns,  they  were  all.  highly  surprised  at  such  a 
novelty.  They  could  not  at  first  imagine  the  cause  of  it;  but  some  of 
them,  recalling  to  mind  what  the  lady  marchioness  had  told  them  as 
having  happened  to  her  daughter  at  the  villa,  and  hearing  her  now  pro 
nouncing  some  divine  words,  became  assured  that  this  was  an  excess  of 
the  love  of  God.  Interruptedly  and  with  tears,  she  exclaimed  in  these 
words  :  "  O  Love,  how  much  offended  Thou  art !  How  much  offended 
Thou  art,  O  Love  !  O  Love,  Thou  art  not  known  nor  loved!"  And  in 
this,  loving  complaint,  she  moaned  with  anguish  for  the  offenses  com 
mitted  against  God.  Forced  by  obedience  to  her  mistress  to  enter  the 
bed,  having  already  been  led  perhaps  unconsciously  to  the  dormi 
tory,  she  said:  "Will  it  be  possible  that  I  enter  this  bed  whilst  God 
is  so  grievously  offended?  O  Love,  I  will  do  it  through  obedience;" 
and  thus  she  obeyed.  For  about  two  hours  she  experienced  this  excess 
of  love,  and  then  she  resumed  her  natural  state.  The  love  of  God  is  a 
fire  which  burns,  but  does  not  consume;  unlike  our  passions,  which 
afford  fuel  to  a  fire  that  will  consume  ourselves  and  all  we  possess. 



-  \  -  \  --  V/-  \  ••   VA    \  '<  \ 
^  ^J^^J^^y^^^^J^^^>y\ 






OTHING  was  wanting  to  her  heart  for  a  perfect  union  with 
God,  both  on  account  of  her  never-stained  purity,  and  of 
the  vow  of  virginity  she  made  when  yet  a  secular,  and  also 
on  account  of  the  entire  consecration  of  herself  in  the  act 
by  which,  stripping  herself  of  the  garb  of  t^e  world,  she 
put  on  that  of  a  nun.  She  sighed,  nevertheless,  with  holy 
impatience  for  the  time  when  she  would  also  formally  bind 
herself  to  God  with  the  loving  tie  of  holy  vows  in  the 
religious  profession.  She  complained  of  the  length  of  the  time,  and 
measured  with  loving  weariness  the  passing  of  the  year,  because  she  did 
not  wish  to  wait  till  the  end  of  it.  It  happened  that,  eight  months  after 
her  taking  the  habit,  some  novices — her  companions — were  about  to 
make  their  religious  profession,  and  she  asked  with  great  earnest 
ness  that  she  might  be  admitted  with  them  to  witness  the  solemnity 
of  this  act.  This  being  refused  her,  she  grieved  much  over  it, 
thinking  through  her  humility,  or  rather  the  poor  opinion  she 
entertained  of  herself,  that  the  superiors  refused  her  the  dispensation 
because  they  found  her  unworthy  of  this  favor.  She  was  so  much 
imbued  with  this  idea  that  she  did  not  dare  to  speak  or  converse  with 
these  professed  sisters,  who  remained  for  some  time  in  the  novitiate,  as 
was  the  custom.  So  highly  did  she  venerate  the  religions  state,  that 
she  excused  herself  in  these  short  but  sincerely  humble  and  affectionate 
words  :  (t  You  are  the  brides  of  Jesus,  and  I  do  not  deserve  to  be  one." 
Her  heart  had  no  rest  until  she  was  assured  that  the  ordinary  superiors 
had  no  authority  to  dispense  in  such  cases.  She  then  patiently  awaited 
the  end  of  her  spiritual  probation.  When  this  came,  she  imagined 
in  advance  how  she,  too,  would  have  enjoyed  this  happy  lot ;  but  God 
wished  to  try  still  further  this,  His  beloved  bride,  and  seemed  delighted 
in  leading  her  longer  by  the  road  of  desire.  There  being  no  other 
novices  ready  to  profess,  the  superioresses  thought  they  had  better  join 
this  one  to  the  others  ;  and  in  this  way  the  profession  of  Sister  Mary 
Magdalen  was  deferred.  In  quietly  submitting  herself  to  this  post 
ponement  she  had  to  perform  one  of  those  acts  which  are  by  no  means 


easy  for  those  who  are  not  possessed  of  the  most  pure  and  divine  love. 
But  she,  inspired  by  God  Himself,  who  wanted  to  try  her  further,  said  to 
the  prioress  and  to  the  mistress :  "I  will  not  make  my  profession  with 
the  rest ;  but  'you  will  be  obliged  to  have  me  make  it  alone,  to  your 
sorrow."  The  mothers  paid  no  attention  to  these  words,  judging  them 
to  proceed  from  her  great  desire  ;  but  what  followed  proved  them 
to  be  a  most  certain  prophecy.  About  the  end  of  March,  of  the  year 
1584,  nearly  two  months  longer  than  the  year  of  her  probation,  on 
a  Friday  morning,  the  seraphic  virgin  received  a  great  spiritual  con 
solation,  with  infinite  bodily  torment.  She  was  attacked  by  a  most 
violent  fever,  with  chills,  and  such  a  severe  cough  that  her  breast 
seemed  about  to  burst.  The  nuns  feared  lest  a  vein  might  break  ;  there 
fore,  they  quickly  had  recourse  to  human  art,  under  the  direction  of 
Messer  Jacopo  Tronconi,  a  most  skillful  physician,  who  immediately 
opened  the  vein  and  then  prescribed  some  medicine.  He  used  all  the 
other  remedies  that  his  knowledge  could  suggest  to  him  in  the  case  ; 
but  the  illness  obstinately  increased  and  the  seraphic  patient  was  con 
tinually  agitated  by  the  most  cruel  and  dangerous  attacks.  Eight  days 
after,  being  attacked  two  or  three  times  daily  by  these  pains,  the  illness 
became  alarming.  The  doctor  then  decided  to  touch  her  on  the  nape 
of  the  neck  with  a  button  of  fire,  which  lightened  the  illness  to  some 
extent,  but  did  not  remove  it,  nor  diminish  the  fever  or  the  cough. 
The  catarrh  increased,  and  reduced  her  to  such  a  state  that  she  could  not 
take  any  nourishment  without  great  effort,  and  scarcely  had  it  reached 
her  stomach  before  she  was  taken  with  a  desire  to  vomit ;  and  being 
unable  to  give  way  to  it  by  the  pressure  of  the  stomach,  she  was  forced 
to  send  forth  cries  and  shrieks  which  pierced  the  ears  and  hearts  of 
persons  afar  off.  The  physician  himself,  who  was  often  the  witness  of 
this  sad  spectacle,  feared  that  some  breast  vein  might  burst.  He  saw 
her  attacked  and  overcome  by  the  cough  three  and  four  times  an  hour. 
She  became  unable  to  lie  on  the  bed,  because  as  soon  as  she  would  lie 
down  she  felt  smothered  ;  neither  could  she  stand  up,  on  account  of  her 
weakness.  Day  and  night  she  suffered  ;  dressed  and  sitting  -on  the  same 
bed,  without  rest  and  without  respite. 

Forty  days  had  passed  since  her  illness  began,  and  it  was  still  grow 
ing  worse  and  more  violent.  The  attending  physician  agreed  with  the 
nuns  to  call  in  for  consultation  three  of  the  chief  doctors  of  Florence. 
These  physicians  having  carefully  examined  the  patient,  and  prescribed 
and  applied  to  her  those  remedies  which,  by  common  consent,  they 
regarded  as  the  best,  seeing  their  uselessness,  became  discouraged  and 
confessed  their  inability  to  locate  the  seat  of  the  disease.  In  the  mean 
time,  the  patient  was  gradually  getting  worse,  until  the  twentieth  of  the 
following  May.  She  became  then,  by  a  new  and  strange  change, 
unable  to  take  anything,  not  even  fluids.  If  she  took  but  a  mouthful 
of  water,  she  would  faint  with  pain.  Every  way,  then,  being  barred 
against  her  support,  the  physicians  themselves  despaired  of  her  recovery. 
As  an  extreme  experiment,  they  prescribed  for  her  the  water  del  Tet- 
tuccio,  which,  being  taken  in  a  small  quantity  by  the  patient  for  two 
mornings,  and  with  the  greatest  pain,  had  to  be  given  up.  God's 
servant  was  placed  in  the  hands  of  God,  to  suffer  for  three  months 

44  THE    UFK   AND   WORKS   OF 

the  most  severe  and  cruel  sickness.  The  simplicity  of  the  last  remedy 
used  by  the  physicians  must  astonish  everybody  to-day,  when  medical 
science  furnishes  better  remedies  than  a  natural  water.  In  this  we  have 
an  evident  proof  of  the  progress  of  this  science,  for  the  reason  that 
greater  study  and  experience  give  it  new  and  better  acquisitions.  Let 
us  reflect,  to  our  profit,  that  the  same  thing  cannot  be  said  of  the 
science  of  the  soul's  salvation ;  because  this,  in  its  principles,  excludes 
all  doubts,  all  changes  and  human  experiments.  It  is  all  heavenly,  all 
divine,  and  consequently  altogether  invariable  ;  hence,  he  is  not  only  a 
fool  and  an  impious  man  who  attempts  to  lay  hands  on  it,  but  he 
also  is  one  who  pretends  to  improve  it  and  build  it  up  by  substantial 
reforms.  That  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  should  continue  to  live  without 
nourishment,  and  so  violently  sick,  seemed  entirely  supernatural ;  but 
no  less  wonderful  appeared  to  be  her  constancy  and  firmness,  since, 
although  assailed  and  oppressed  by  so  many  torments,  there  was  never 
noticed  in  her  an  act  or  sign  of  complaint  to  indicate  an  impatient 
spirit.  She  always,  even  during  the  inevitable  sufferings  of  nature, 
kept  her  usual  calmness  and  grace  ;  always  was  most  obedient  to  those 
who  attended  her,  and  to  the  physicians,  though  she  did  not  hope  for 
health  through  human  skill.  Illness  is  apt  to  be  the  thermometer  of 
one's  virtue  and  the  occasion  of  reporting  victory  over  one's  self,  because 
when  the  body  is  weakened  and  troubled  by  sickness,  the  soul  is  also 
more  depressed  and  enervated  by  it.  If  by  long-continued  and  strenuous 
acts  of  virtue  in  the  past  it  has  not  contracted  strong  habits  and  fixed 
the  will  firmly  in  the  love  of  virtue,  the  soul  is  easily  overcome  and  van 
quished,  both  by  the  weariness  and  the  pains  with  which  it  is  troubled. 
Alas  !  most  people,  far  from  profiting  spiritually  by  the  infirmities  of  the 
body,  become  worse.  This  they  plainly  show  afterwards,  when  they 
have  recovered,  by  their  sinking  deeper  into  their  vices,  as  if  death  had 
gone  far  off  from  them,  because  they  had  come  out  victorious  in  that  com 
bat.  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  in  this  illness  not  only  gave  proof  of  full 
control  over  her  passions,  keeping  herself  constantly  tranquil,  but  with 
an  over-abundance  of  divine  love  she  showed  that  the  torments  which 
assailed  her  were  like  so  much  fuel  placed  on  the  fire  of  her  love  for 
God,  or  like  the  blowing  of  a  strong  wind,  which  kindled  more  and 
more  the  celestial  flame  in  the  recesses  of  her  heart.  Every  natural 
hope  of  recovery  having,  therefore,  disappeared,  and  everybody  thinking 
that  only  a  few  days  of  life  were  left  her,  the  spiritual  father  and  the 
mothers  of  the  monastery,  not  being  willing  to  let  her  die  without  the 
advantage  of  the  sacred  vows,  resolved  to  admit  her  alone  to  the  profes 
sion,  as  she  had  previously  with  a  prophetic,  but  not  understood  spirit, 
foretold.  The  seraphic  virgin  gave  thanks  to  God,  who  had  made  use 
of  such  an  excruciating  sickness  to  make  her  enjoy  more  quickly, 
by  the  tie  of  the  vows,  the  union  with  her  Divine  Spouse.  As  she  was 
unable  to  make  her  profession  in  the  customary  place,  and  wishing  to 
do  it  with  all  possible  reverence  and  devotion,  she  implored  the  nuns 
to  fix  a  little  bed  for  her  in  the  choir  before  the  altar  of  the  Blessed 
Virgin.  This*  request  was  granted  her,  because  of  the  knowledge  she 
manifested  of  the  character  and  importance  of  this  religious  undertak 
ing.  She  was  taken  to  the  choir  on  the  morning  of  Trinity  Sunday, 


which  in  that  year,  1584,  fell  on  the  twenty-seventh  day  of  May.  There, 
having  made  her  confession  to  the  usual  father  confessor,  Rev.  Agos- 
tino  Campi,  and  having  received  Holy  Communion  from  him,  with 
great  animation  and  fervor  she  made,  at  his  hands,  her  regular  profession. 
What  a  deluge  of  celestial  graces,  what  consolation  overflowed  the  inno 
cent  and  seraphic  soul  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  in  that  religious  and  so- 
much-wished-for  act  cannot  be  described,  because  the  happiness  of  souls 
that,  though  traveling  on  earth,  yet  are  blessed  in  God's  love,  cannot 
be  expressed  in  words.  She  herself,  when  brought  back  to  her  bed, 
manifested  to  some  extent  what  new  vigor  her  spirit  had  derived 
from  it.  She  asked  as  a  favor  from  the  nurse  that  the  bed-curtains  be 
lowered  and  that  she  be  permitted  to  rest  a  while.  L,onging  more  for 
the  rest  of  the  spirit  than  that  of  the  body,  when  she  found  herself 
alone,  she  became  so  fixed  in  the  consideration  of  the  grace  received 
from  God,  and  the  union  made  with  Him  by  means  of  the  holy  vows, 
that  she  remained  motionless,  without  being  troubled  by  the  cough,  and 
in  deep  rest.  The  nurses,  who,  of  course,  had  not  departed,  but  had  only 
placed  themselves  in  a  position  to  notice,  from  time  to  time,  what  she 
would  do,  perceived  that,  being  rapt  in  divine  thoughts,  she  was  alien 
ated  from  her  senses.  Her  countenance  had  assumed  an  air  of  paradise ; 
the  ashy  paleness  had  given  way  to  a  clear,  bright  color;  and  her  eyes, 
flashing  and  most  resplendent,  were  looking  fixedly  at  an  image  of  the 
Crucifix.  Being  amazed  at  such  a  sight,  they  called  in  the  rest  of  the 
nuns,  all  of  whom  greatly  marveled,  and,  becoming  at  once  edified  and 
moved,  gave  thanks  to  the  .Divine  Goodness  who  worked  so  prodigiously 
in  their  dear  sister.  She  remained  in  that  state  about  two  hours,  and 
then,  returning  to  her  senses,  again  resumed  the  attenuated  and  pale 
countenance,  and  again  felt  the  torments  of  the  fever,  the  cough,  and 
the  pains.  This  was  the  first  rapture  noticed  in  this  ecstatic  servant  of 
the  Lord,  who  was  so  highly  favored  by  God  with  a  most  sublime 
knowledge  and  wonderful  frequency  of  such  graces,  the  effects  of  which 
we  shall  see  at  length  in  the  faithful  narration  of  the  second  volume, 
viz. ,  in  the  Works  of  this  Saint. 









]HE  knowledge  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen's  sanctity  kept  the 
hearts  of  the  nuns  greatly  agitated  with  the  ever-increasing 
fear  of  losing  her.  Her  illness  was,  from  day  to  day,  grow 
ing  worse,  and  the  strength  of  the  Saint  perceptibly  dimin 
ished.  At  the  beginning  of  July  the  obstinate  illness 
showed  not  the  slightest  sign  of  improvement.  It  was  a 
miracle  how  she  continued  to  live,  because  she  would  but 
seldom  take  any  nourishment,  and  then  only  in  very  small 
quantities  and  with  the  greatest  difficulty,  nay,  with  a  positive  effort 
of  nature.  The  nuns  redoubled  their  prayers,  sighs,  and  tears,  and 
practiced  some  devotions  in  common  that  God  might  be  pleased  to  give 
back  to  them  in  good  health  this  sister  so  valuable  to  them.  As  the 
moment  appointed  by  Divine  Providence  to  work  new  wonders  in  this, 
His  most  beloved  servant,  was  approaching,  the  souls  of  the  nuns  who 
were  to  be  the  witnesses  thereof  were  prepared  accordingly.  In  the  year 
1577,  in  Florence,  the  noWe  Maria  Bartolomei  Bagnesi,  a  sister  of  the 
Third  Order  of  St.  Dominic  and  illustrious  for  her  sanctity,  departed 
this  life.  At  the  fervent  request  of  the  nuns  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angel i 
the  body  of  the  sister  was  given  to  them,  and,  therefore,  carried  with 
great  pomp  to  their  monastery.  It  was  deposited  in  a  sarcophagus  and 
privately  kept  by  them  with  ever-increasing  devotion,  until,  on  account 
of  the  many  miracles  wrought  through  her  intercession,  the  great  and 
glorious  Pontiff  Pius  VII  was  pleased  to  raise  her  to  the  honors  of  the 
altar,  with  the  title  of  Blessed.  In  consequence  of  this,  the  sacred 
sarcophagus  was  exposed  to  public  veneration.  Then  a  lay-sister, 
named  Sister  Maria  Dorotea,  who  knew  how  our  Saint  venerated  the 
now  Blessed  Maria  Bagnesi,  and  how  frequently,  when  in  good 
health,  she  visited  her  sepulchre,  made  a  vow  one  Friday  evening 
that,  when  able,  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  would  visit  the  body  of  the 
venerable  mother  three  times,  reciting  each  time  three  Pater  Nosters  and 
three  Ave  Marias;  and  that  she,  Sister  Dorotea,  would  fast  for  three 

She  instructs  country  youths  in  the  rudiments  of  the  faith,  and 
also  distributes  various  alms  to  them  (page  18). 



Tuesdays,  and  on  the  day  of  the  death  of  the  Blessed  Maria  Bagnesi,  and 
have  three  Masses  offered  in  honor  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity.  She  did 
not  make  this  vow  known  to  anybody.  Not  even  the  Saint  knew  it 
then  ;  and  yet,  by  disposition  of  the  Divine  Goodness,  it  happened  at  the 
same  time,  that  the  ordinary  confessor,  Rev.  Agostino  Campi,  entered  the 
monastery  to  restore  the  holy  patient  with  the  Eucharistic  Bread.  He 
told  her  that  he  wished  her,  when  able,  to  go  and  visit  the  body  of  the 
Venerable  Sister  Maria  Bagnesi,  together  with  Sister  Veronica,  a  novice, 
and  Sister  Dorotea,  a  lay-sister.  At  these  words,  as  she  afterwards 
related  to  the  nurse,  the  Saint  suddenly  felt  the  catarrh  cease,  the  cough 
stop  together  with  the  shortness  of  breath,  and  she  found  herself  free 
from  illness  and  pain ;  so  that  she  promptly,  and  with  a  cheerful  coun 
tenance,  answered  him  :  "  Yes,  Father  ;  by  the  grace  of  God,  I  will  be 
able  to  go."  She  said  nothing  then  about  her  feeling  healed,  perhaps 
on  account  of  her  deeply-rooted  humility,  or  because  she  was  not  suffi 
ciently  certain  of  having  been  favored  with  such  a  prodigy.  Her  con 
fessor  having  left  her,  and  she  knowing  positively  that  she  had  been 
restored  to  health  by  a  supernatural  agency,  said  to  the  nurse :  "I 
want  you  to  know  that  I  am  cured,  and  that  I  will  surfer  no  more  cough 
or  pain;  and  you  will  see  that  taking  my  dinner  will  not  annoy  me." 
These  words,  though  pronounced  with  great  energy  and  firmness, 
amazed  the  nurse,  but  did  not  altogether  reassure  her.  The  newly- 
recovered  one,  who  saw  that  the  moment  for  glorifying  God  had  arrived, 
and  who  could  see  the  hesitation  of  spirit  in  her  assistant,  added  with 
an  irresistible  tone  of  voice :  "  Pray,  get  my  dinner  ready."  It  was 
ready  in  a  moment ;  and  it  consisted  of  light  soup  and  cooked  fruit. 
Whilst  formerly,  on  account  of  her  cough  and  pain,  she  could  ordinarily 
swallow  but  a  small  portion  of  it,  and  that  with  the  greatest  difficulty, 
this  time — free  from  pain  and  without  moving  herself  from  side  to 
side — she  ate  the  little  she  had  as  if  in  perfect  health,  and  hungered 
for  more.  The  nurse,  raised  and  lowered  her  eyes,  clasped  both 
hands,  and,  as  if  ashamed  of  herself,  dared  not  move  nor  speak.  In  the 
meantime,  the  confessor  having  called  Sister  Dorotea,  ordered  her, 
together  with  Sister  Veronica,  to  take  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  to  the 
sepulchre  of  Sister  Maria  Bagnesi.  Imagine  how  the  lay-sister  wondered 
at  the  confessor's  having  the  same  thought  that  she  had.  She  acquainted 
him  on  the  spot  with  the  vow  she  had  made  the  evening  previous  and 
renewed  the  following  morning.  Knowing  nothing  yet  of  the  grace 
already  obtained,  she  had  come  with  her  novice  companion  in  great 
faith  and  with  a  wonderful  coincidence  of  thought  to  take  the  Saint  to 
the  tomb  of  Sister  Maria  Bagnesi.  But  as  they  approached  the  bed  of 
Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  they  found  they  had  no  longer  to  deal  with  a  sick 
person,  because  she  was  full  of  joy  and  vigor.  As  if  to  presage  the 
happy  news,  she  opened  her  arms  to  the  two  sisters,  and  they  embraced 
one  another  in  the  Lord.  They  afterwards  made  known  the  cause  of 
their  coming ;  and  they  saw,  to  their  unspeakable  surprise,  the  Saint  arise 
immediately  from  her  bed  and  prepare  to  join  and  lead  them  quickly  to 
the  sacred  sarcophagus  of  Sister  Maria  Bagnesi.  There,  kneeling  with 
her  companions,  after  having  prayed  together  for  some  time,  she 
begged  them  to  leave  her  by  herself.  When  she  was  alone  she  prayed 


continuously  for  three  hours,  that  is,  from  the  eighteenth  to  the  twenty- 
first  hour,1  with  that  fervor  of  devotion  which  certainly  was  not  want 
ing  in  her,  and  which  was  called  for  by  such  a  wonderful  occurrence. 
She  returned  to  the  infirmary  alone,  ate  some  food  very  naturally, 
recited  some  prayers  before  the  Crucifix,  and,  bidding  good  night  to  the 
nurse,  undressed  and  went  to  bed,  and  passed  the  night  in  quiet  rest.  In 
the  morning  the  nuns,  who,  even  if  they  had  wished  to,  could  not  doubt 
the  evidence  of  the  miracle,  gathered  around  her,  and  turning  on  her  looks 
which  showed  all  the  powers  of  amazement,  all  the  forces  of  surprise 
and  tenderness  of  affection,  spoke  to  her  words  of  the  highest  veneration 
and  heartfelt  satisfaction.  To  the  joy  they  felt  for  their  dear  sister, 
who  had  just  passed  from  a  dangerous  illness  to  perfect  health,  they 
united  the  greatest  devotion  and  gratitude  towards  the  Venerable  Sister 
Bagnesi,  who  had  obtained  such  a  providential  favor  for  her  who  was 
the  ornament  and  the  model  of  the  monastery,  on  account  of  her  great 
sanctity.  They  all  thanked  her  with  feelings  of  most  sincere  and  deep 
gratitude.  But  it  behooved  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  to  do  her  share  towards 
her  own  benefactress,  and  we  b  -lie *  she  knew  how  to  acquit  herself 
with  exactitude  and  perfection.  ja  account  of  the  frequency,  the  zeal, 
and  the  grateful  and  constant  love  with  which  she  betook  herself  to 
the  tomb  of  her  beneficent  mother,  a  few  days  after  she  recovered  her 
health,  that  is,  on  the  eleventh  of  July,  1584,  she  enjoyed  the  following 
remarkable  privilege  there.  Whilst  with  great  emotion  of  heart,  at  the 
foot  of  the  sepulchre,  she  was  gratefully  meditating  upon  the  favor 
received,  she  felt  her  soul  being  carried  away  by  superhuman  force 
through  the  celestial  regions.  She  was  made  worthy  to  behold  there  the 
soul  of  the  Venerable  Bagnesi  surrounded  by  great  glory,  and,  through  the 
obedience  she  was  under  to  reveal  what  she  saw  in  her  ecstasies,  she 
related  this  vision  in  the  following  words :  u  I  saw  in  Paradise  a  most 
beautiful  throne  of  incomprehensible  light,  on  which,  all  resplendent  and 
full  of  the  greatest  majesty,  the  blessed  mother,  Sister  Maria  Bagnesi, 
was  sitting  ;  and  I  understood  that  this  throne  was  due  to  her  virginity 
and  purity,  which  were  to  her  very  great  ornaments.  I  also  perceived 
that  this  throne  was  adorned  with  jewels,  and  these  were  all  those  souls 
she  had  led  to  the  service  of  God,  and  who,  encircling  her  all  around 
like  a  crown,  added  to  her  ornamentation  and  beauty. n  In  consequence 
of  the  particular  devotion  she  entertained  for  this  servant  of  God,  she  was 
favored,  even  before  her  illness,  with  some  sublime  visions.  We  report 
them  here  for  the  sake  of  the  continuity  of  the  argument. 

During  the  night  of  the  twelfth  of  February,  1584,  being  at  prayer, 
and  engaged  in  it  with  redoubled  fervor,  her  mind  was  elevated  to  a 
very  high  contemplation.  She  seemed  to  see  in  heaven  the  soul  of  the 
Blessed  Mother  Maria  Bagnesi,  in  the  bosom  of  the  Word  Incarnate,  as 
a  precious  gem,  with  which  the  Divine  Word  was  as  well  satisfied  as  a 
bridegroom  with  the  most  valuable  jewel  with  which  he  may  be  adorned. 
She  understood  that  the  Word  kept  this  beautiful  gem  on  His  breast  not 
only  to  delight  in  it,  but  also  that  it  might  be  seen  by  all.  He  desired 

1  According  to  the  old  Italian  way  of  counting  the  hours  of  the  day,  which  has  lately 
been  revived. — Note  of  the  Translator. 


it  to  be  like  a  mirror  for  all  who  would  gaze  on  it ;  so  that,  noticing  in 
it  her  virtues — charity,  purity,  humility,  patience,  modesty,  benignity, 
the  sweetness  of  the  love  she  felt  for  God  and  her  neighbor  during  life, 
and  for  which  she  now  enjoyed  the  reward — they  would  be  gently 
attracted  to  imitate  her,  at  least  in  part,  thus  in  some  measure  satisfying 
God,  as  she  constantly  gave  Him  delight.  Whilst  she  was  contem 
plating  this  Blessed  soul,  God  gave  St.  Mary  Magdalen  to  understand 
that,  on  account  of  the  special  affection  He  bore  to  her  monastery,  He 
had  predestined  two  great  luminaries  for  it — as  it  reads  in  Genesis,  that 
when  He  created  the  world,  "fecit  in  eo  duo  iuminaria:  lumiuare  majiis 
ut  prczesset  diei,  et  luminare  mimis^  tit  prczesset  nocti" — "God made  two 
great  lights :  a  greater  light  to  rule  the  day ;  and  a  lesser  light  to  rule 
the  night"  (Gen.  i,  16).  The  one  was  the  Blessed  Virgin,  the  other  the 
Blessed  Maria  Bagnesi.  The  Blessed  Virgin  is  the  great  luminary, 
similar  to  the  sun,  because  she  is  the  special  Mother  of  the  monastery, 
under  whose  banner  they  enlist.  Therefore,  she  sheds  light  like  the 
sun,  and  on  the  day  of  grace,  viz.,  during  the  present  time,  she,  the 
Mother  of  purity,  continues  to  enlighten  the  souls  that  are  found  in  her 
dwelling-place  ;  strengthening  them  that  they  may  walk  in  the  path 
of  God,  making  known  to  them  the  deceits  of  the  enemy,  and  all  the 
impediments  that  those  who  oppose  them  may  cast  in  their  way. 
She  assists  them  to  triumph  over  such  obstacles,  and,  with  maternal 
affection,  she  enlivens  the  sterile  ground  in  the  hearts  of  her  beloved 
daughters  with  the  fire  of  divine  love,  so  that,  through  her,  they  blossom 
and  bring  forth  flowers  of  just  desire  and  fruits  of  good  works  and  holy 
virtues.  Again,  this  holy  Mother  performs  loftier  operations  in  those 
daughters  who  have  the  good  disposition  and  prepare  themselves,  more 
and  more,  by  faithful  correspondence  to  grace  ;  she  produces  in  them 
those  greater  spiritual  effects  which  the  sun  is  wont  to  produce  materially 
in  a  cultivated  garden  after  a  beneficent  dew. 

The  minor  luminary,  which  is  the  venerable  mother,  Sister  Maria 
Bagnesi,  placed  through  the  love  of  God  over  her  monastery,  is  like  a 
moon,  which,  when  the  sun  withdraws  its  rays,  reflects  its  light.  When, 
at  times,  the  Mother  of  God  is  offended  at  her  daughters  because  of  their 
negligences  and  imperfections,  and  withdraws  the  rays  of  her  splendor, 
leaving  them  in  utter  darkness,  this  blessed  soul  with  pious  affection 
enlightens  the  spirits  of  those  wanderers  in  the  obscurity  of  the  night. 
She  offers  them  efficient  help  to  learn  the  cause  of  this  darkness,  excites 
them  to  true  repentance,  and,  with  urgent  prayers,  compels — so  to  say — 
the  Mother  of  God  to  overlook  the  faults  committed  by  these  ungrateful, 
but  repentant,  daughters.  Ah  !  if  the  daughters  of  Mary  could  see  how 
much  help  conies  to  them  from  this  minor  luminary  when  they  find 
themselves  in  the  obscurity  of  error,  how  much  more  they  would  profit 
by  it  than  they  now  do  !  Not  only  does  she  protect  us  in  Heaven  before 
God  and  His  Holy  Mother,  but  in  the  rare  example  of  her  virtues 
she  has  left  us  on  earth  a  guide  most  useful,  undoubtedly,  for  all,  but  in 
a  special  manner  for  the  souls  consecrated  to  God  in  the  cloister,  if  they 
would  profit  by  it,  following  faithfully  in  her  footsteps. 

Again  looking  at  these  two  heavenly  luminaries,  St.  Mary  Mag 
dalen  ,saw  that  both  were  continually  infusing  light  into  those  conse- 


crated  souls.  She  saw,  moreover,  that  those  who  lead  an  imperfect  life 
in  Religion  obscure  these  luminaries  with  something  like  clouds ;  and 
though  they  cannot  take  away  the  splendor  from  the  sun  and  the  moon, 
yet  they  darken  them  and  obscure  their  rays,  preventing  them  from  pro 
ducing  the  desired  effects  in  the  individual.  Souls  who  lead  an  imper 
fect  life  in  a  sacred  place  not  only  prevent  the  operations  that  these 
luminaries  would  produce,  but  lessen  their  influence  on  all  the  rest. 
With  great  emphasis,  she  pronounced  these  words:  "Even  the  faults 
committed  through  weakness  become  clouds  before  these  luminaries." 
But  afterwards  she  was  comforted  on  seeing  the  Divine  Spirit  clearing 
and  casting  away  all  the  clouds  made  by  the  faults  of  those  souls ;  so 
that  the  operations  of  those  two  divine  luminaries  were  being  wonder 
fully  performed  and  their  effects  brought  to  perfection.  She  saw  some 
souls  like  very  thick  clouds,  which  did  not  disperse,  neither  at 
the  light  of  the  second  luminary  nor  at  the  breath  of  the  Divine 
Spirit.  They  would  certainly  have  prevented  the  above  effects;  but  the 
same  Holy  Ghost,  with  an  extraordinary  wind  and  great  force, 
drove  them  away  and  confined  them  to  a  corner ;  so  that,  though  they 
were  present,  they  did  not  at  all  prevent  the  Mother  of  God  and  the 
Blessed  soul  from  freely  performing  their  operations  upon  all  the  inmates 
of  the  monastery,  The  clouds  were  those  souls  that  refused  to  remove 
the  impediments  so  that  God's  grace  might  work  in  them,  and,  there 
fore,  they  remained  with  their  imperfections.  She  also  understood  to 
her  great  joy  how  the  Blessed  Virgin  adopts,  with  ineffable  love,  as 
her  own  daughters,  all  those  who  choose  to  dedicate  themselves  to  God 
in  this  monastery,  and  spiritually  gives  birth  to  them  in  the  sight 
of  the  Word.  When  they  are  born,  she  presents  them  to  the  Blessed 
soul  of  the  mother — Sister  Maria  Bagnesi — who,  like  a  loving  nurse, 
raises  them,  and  nourishes  them  spiritually. .  Because  of  what  she  had 
learned,  having  returned  to  her  senses,  our  Saint  was  extremely  pleased 
and  thankful  to  the  Divine  Providence  for  so  efficaciously  watching  over 
the  monastery  she  had  selected. 

Another  time,  on  the  i/Lth  of  June,  1584,  St.  Mary  Magdalen,  with 
two  other  nuns,  visited  the  body  of  the  Blessed  Bagnesi,  in  order  to  return 
thanks  for  the  health  so  miraculously  recovered  through  her  mediation. 
While  praying,  she  was  led  in  spirit  to  the  same  blessed  one  in  paradise, 
standing  at  the  right  hand  of  Jesus,  between  Jesus  and  the  Blessed 
Virgin,  clothed  in  a  silver  dress  with  gold  and  brown  embroidery;  gold 
for  her  charity,  and  brown  for  her  great  patience.  She  had  palms  in  her 
hand  as  do  the  martyrs,  and  she  was  beautifully  and  grandly  adorned. 
She  saw  also  that  Jesus  took  out  of  His  most  sacred  hands  large  and 
beautiful  jewels,  filling  the  hands  of  Mother  Maria  Bagnesi  with  them, 
that  she  might  dispense  them.  These  jewels  were  of  four  kinds,  viz. , 
white,  red,  violet,  and  brown;  white  for  purity,  red  for  the  love  of  God, 
violet  for  humility,  and  brown  for  patience.  While  the  mother  dis 
pensed  them,  she  saw  her  giving  many  of  them,  especially  the  white 
and  red  ones,  to  the  nuns.  She  herself  was  given  the  four  kinds,  but  a 
greater  number  of  white  and  red  ;  the  confessor  was  also  given  the 
four  k'inds,  but  more  of  the  red  and  an  abundance  of  the  brown,  because 
of  the  sovereign  and  uniform  patience  which  his  office  required.  She 


also  saw  her  giving  some  of  them,  the  most  of  which  were  violet  and 
brown,  to  lay  persons.  Then  it  was  presented  to  her  imagination  how 
the  Blessed  Bagnesi  was  gloriously  drawn  in  a  chariot  of  fire,  likeKlias, 
the  father  of  the  Carmelites ;  and  she  understood  that  chariot  to  be  of 
fire  because  of  her  great  charity  in  spiritual  and  temporal  things. 
The  four  wheels  signified  the  four  cardinal  virtues,  viz.,  justice,  forti 
tude,  temperance,  and  prudence,  practiced  by  her  during  her  life.  Here 
ended  the  second  vision  St.  Mary  Magdalen  had  of  Blessed  Maria 

We  will  frequently  note  similar  visions  in  our  Saint,  some  of  which 
were  accompanied  by  revelations  of  hidden  things  or  predictions  of  things 
to  come.  I  have  alluded,  in  the  Introduction,  to  the  kind  of  belief 
which  we  should  give  them.  At  this  first,  and  perhaps  not  so  favorable, 
impression  that  may  have  been  made  on  the  mind  of  the  reader,  it 
seems  to  me  opportune  to  add  some  remarks  which  may  better  satisfy 
him.  Immediate  answers  have  the  greatest  weight,  and  more  easily 
recur  to  memory  in  similar  cases,  so  that,  if  one  wants  to,  he  may  apply 
them  for  his  own  benefit.  The  Church,  unlike  secret  societies,  is  wont 
to  work  in  full  light  and  the  evidence  of  facts.  She  fears  not  the  enmity 
of  man,  because  she  has  no  need  of  man.  The  history  of  virtuous  and 
holy  persons  should  not  hide  their  imperfections,  if  they  exist;  nor 
should  it  inspire  the  reader  with  an  uncertain  and,  perhaps,  erroneous 
piety.  The  exposition  of  facts  is  not  a  panegyric  nor  a  legend.  Truth 
is  never  the  loser;  and  it  alone  can  convince  and  improve  people.  I  am 
pleased,  therefore,  in  spite  of  anyone  who  may  be  opposed,  to  quote 
the  words  Ludovico  Muratori  left  us  in  his  book  on  the  strength  of 
human  imagination.  In  it  he  says:  "When  some  virgins  and  other 
souls  enamored  of  God  give  themselves  up  to  meditate  on  the  life  of  our 
Divine  Saviour,  or  other  truths  of  religion,  it  is  proper  to  suppose 
that  they  have  already  filled  their  minds  with  sacred  doctrines  and 
devout  ideas  By  the  continuous  reading  of  ascetic  books,  the  sermons 
they  have  heard,  and  the  instructions  given  them  by  learned  and  pious  men. 
Materials  are  not  wanting  to  their  imagination  for  the  forming  of  long, 
ingenious  colloquies  in  their  mind,  and  for  the  imagining  of  new 
ideas  by  the  help  of  those  preceding,  deducing  one  from  the  other,  and 
representing  the  actions  of  God,  the  angels,  and  other  blessed  spirits 
as  their  devout  affection  deems  more  appropriate  and  suitable  to  the 
subject  of  their  contemplation.  All  this  can  take  place  without  any 
miracle — without  particular  cooperation  of  God ;  I  mean  to  say,  natu 
rally.  A  soul  full  of  sacred  affection,  with  an  imagination  rich  with  so 
many  ideas,  is  sufficient  for  it.  *  *  *  Then  the  habit  of  becoming  ecstatic 
is  formed,  so  that  at  the  sight  of  the  divine  mysteries,  or  on  returning  to 
their  usual  meditations,  their  mind  sees  itself  easily  absorbed  in  these 
thoughts  ;  and  they  seem  really,  in  imagination,  to  have  Christ  our 
Lord  present  to  them,  to  embrace  Him  as  a  child,  to  accompany  Him  to 
the  passion,  and  to  do  other  like  things.  *  *  *  Ecstasies  and  visions, 
therefore,  being  uniform  in  their  substance,  in  the  absence  of  an  evident 
intervention  of  divine  action,  there  must  always  remain  some  diffidence 
lest  what  appears  to  be  God's  work  may  not  be  truly  so,  and  a  doubt 
that  jt  may  be  but  a  natural  phenomenon  of  persons  who  are  ardently 


tending  to  God.  Mystics  themselves  avow  that  in  this  matter  a  soul  is 
subject  to  many  deceptions.  :  *  This  is  said,  nevertheless,  not  to 
condemn  entirely  all  apparitions  and  revelations,  because,  if  to  believe 
too  much  is  an  excess,  it  is  no  less  of  an  excess  to  believe  nothing." 

Behold,  then,  the  plain  talk  of  a  writer  who,  certainly  unsuspected  of 
exaggeration  in  matters  of  piety,  yet  knows  how  to  respect  what  apper 
tains  to  the  all-powerful  goodness  of  God.  As  for  ourselves,  let  us  be 
ware,  lest  in  wanting  to  be  free,  we  become  unjust  and  unreasonable. 
Let  us  freely  admit  that  our  Saint  was  sometimes  transported  by  her  imag 
ination  to  see  what  did  not  exist,  or  to  modify  the  existence  of  it.  These 
fanciful  productions,  when  they  are  not  in  opposition  to  the  fundamental 
maxims  of  the  faith,  and,  better,  if  by  them  a  soul  profits  in  piety,  may  be 
regarded  as  a  means  of  Divine  Providence  more  suited  to  such  a  person, 
as  Jesus  Christ  Himself  made  use  of  parables  and  sensible  signs  to  adapt 
Himself  to  the  common  intelligence.  We  cannot  conceive  what  is  above 
our  senses,  except  by  comparison  with  what  is  really  subject  to  us.  The 
grace  of  God  instructs  us  according  to  our  capacity,  leading  us,  like 
children,  by  external  signs,  to  represent  to  ourselves  the  formal  existence 
of  the  invisible.  Our  imagination  corresponds  to  it  with  more  or  less 
liveliness,  according  to  our  nature,  education,  and  habits;  hence,  igno 
rant  and  simple  persons,  females  particularly,  have  been  and  always  will 
be  more  prolific  in  forming  fanciful  ideas ;  because  the  stronger  they  are 
in  imagination,  the  weaker  are  their  reasoning  powers.  But  God,  who 
is  so  good,  sometimes  communicates  Himself  to  them  in  preference  to 
very  learned  men,  for  the  well-known  reason  that  imagination  accom 
panied  by  humble  devotion  is  more  susceptible  to  such  communication, 
than  an  intellect  which,  though  sublime,  is  puffed  up  by  vain  haughti 
ness.  In  regard  to  this  science  we  all  have  equal  strength  of  mind,  and 
the  virtue  of  our  heart  alone  can  make  us  more  apt  to  attain  it ;  so  that 
the  opinion  of  a  poor,  ignorant  woman  may  be  preferable  in  this  to  that 
of  a  distinguished  theologian.  Moreover,  when  the  ecstasies,  visions, 
or  revelations  have  the  supernatural  element  required  by  the  above- 
quoted  writer,  and  certainly  by  every  good  Catholic — that  is,  when  we 
see  in  them  some  sure  evidence  of  a  prodigy,  such  as  an  instantaneous 
cure,  an  ecstasy,  an  elevation  of  the  body  from  the  ground,  a  revelation 
of  things  hidden  or  far  off — we  should  venerate  them  as  the  works  of 
Divine  Omnipotence.  Of  such  a  character  are  nearly  all  the  marvels  of 
our  Seraphim  of  the  Carmel ;  hence,  in  venerating  these  by  an  indis 
pensable  duty  of  our  faith,  we  should  not  refuse  our  assent  to  others  of 
the  same  Saint,  even  if  they  do  not  appear  so  evidently  marked.  Let  us, 
at  least,  acknowledge  them  as  natural  effects  either  of  reason  or  of 
fancy,  associated  with  God's  ordinary  grace.  The  incontestable  proof  of 
one  fact  is  a  guarantee  for  a  thousand  others  in  the  same  person,  though 
the  cause  may  not  appear  of  equal  credibility  every  time.  Every  good 
logician  will  teach  us  thus.  It  is  truly  a  breach  of  faith  when  men  want 
to  take  exception  to  this  unavoidable  principle  only  in  matters  of  re 
ligion  ;  as  the  wicked  Jews,  who,  at  the  sight  of  so  many  and  such 
amazing  miracles  wrought  by  Jesus  Christ,  suppressed  what  might  have 
convinced  them  of  their  own  malignity ;  and  would  themselves  study, 
and  make  others  also  study,  the  works  of  Christ  from  that  side  only  from 



which  they  thought  they  would  have  a  good  chance  to  deny  and  calum 
niate.  After  all,  I  will  grant  that  some  acts  in  this  history,  not  accom 
panied  or  directed  by  divine  grace,  might  be  said  to  be  the  consequence 
of  exaltation  of  mind,  or  rather  a  slight  excess  in  piety ;  but  more  than 
this  cannot  be  granted.  Even  supposing  this  to  be  the  case,  when  the 
Church  has  not  condemned,  will  we  dare  condemn  it  as  an  excess  of 
virtue,  whilst  in  ourselves  we  tolerate,  and  wish  others  to  tolerate,  such 
excesses  of  vice  ?  I  will  say,  once  and  for  all :  Let,  at  least,  the  essential 
virtues  of  the  Christian  be  possessed  by  us — let  God  be  within  our 
hearts — and  we  will  know  how  to  judge  with  equity  the  actions  of  the 
Saints  ;  otherwise  our  consciences  will  be  tribunals  without  judges. 
St.  Paul,  writing  to  Titus,  has  left  us  this  comment :  UA11  things  are 
clean  to  the  clean :  but  to  the  defiled,  and  the  unbelievers,  nothing  is 
clean  ;  but  both  their  mind  and  their  conscience  are  defiled"  (Tit.  i,  15). 
Let  us  impress  this  well  on  our  minds,  and  apply  it  efficaciously  to  our 








]HE  superioress,  having  detained  her  in  the  infirmary  for  a 
few  days  longer,  thought,  as  did  likewise  the  spiritual 
director  of  the  monastery,  that  she  would  not  send  her  back 
to  the  novitiate,  but  rather  leave  her  free  with  the  other 
professed  nuns,  that  at  her  pleasure  and  convenience  she 
might  better  satisfy  her  spirit  of  contemplation.  She  spoke 
to  her  about  it,  but  the  humble  daughter  feared  that  if  she 
satisfied  her  self-love  by  allowing  this,  she  might  render  her 
self  less  acceptable  to  God,  so  she  began  to  plead  with  the  superioress  to 
place  her  again  in  the  novitiate,  where,  on  account  of  the  subjection  and 
mortification  especially  practiced  there,  she  would  feel  more  certain  of 
divine  approbation.  She  was  consoled  in  her  pious  desires,  and  so 
were  also  the  other  novices.  She,  because  of  her  great  love  of  humble 
suffering,  and  also  to  avoid  the  privilege  of  associating  with  the  professed 
mothers  before  the  completion  of  the  usual  time  spent  by  all  in  the 
novitiate  ;  they,  on  account  of  the  companionship  of  so  beautiful  a  soul, 
who  could  instruct  them  by  words  and  by  her  exemplary  life  efficaciously 
lead  them  to  religious  perfection.  As  if  favored  of  God  with  a  great 
gift  she  returned  many  thanks,  and  by  way  of  gratitude  gave  herself  up, 
more  than  ever,  to  the  observance  of  the  rule  and  the  practices  of  Reli 
gion.  She  occupied  herself  in  the  exterior  exercises  with  such  great  con 
solation  to  her  soul  and  with  such  an  upright  intention  toward  God, 
that  in  no  case  was  she  ever  distracted  by  them  from  her  interior  recol 
lection.  When  at  prayer,  which  would  be  as  soon  as  she  had  finished 
her  manual  work,  she  would  immediately  be  alienated  from  her  senses 
and  wholly  rapt  in  God.  It  oftentimes  happened  that  in  the  very  act 
of  manual  exercise  she  was  overtaken  by  an  ecstasy.  It  was  also  an 
inconceivable  wonder  to  the  sisters  to  see  that  this  holy  child,  privileged 
of  God  with  such  distinct  favors  of  ecstasies  and  revelations,  not  only 
would  derive  from  them  no  self-complacency  or  esteem,  but  on  coming 
to  herself,  as  if  those  things  had  been  rather  a  fault  in  her,  she  would 
humble  herself  to  the  least  of  the  novices — even  lay-novices.  As  if 

When  her  mother  approached  Holy  Communion,  she  drew  nearer 

to  her,  as  if  she  «*  tasted  "  the  fragrance  of  the 

sacramental  species  (page  20). 



mortified,  she  would  return  to  her  other  companions  to  fulfill  with  addi 
tional  solicitude  the  orders  and  customs  of  the  novitiate,  as  if  to  make 
amends  for  a  time  unduly  spent.  It  occasioned  them  equal  wonder 
to  hear  her  talk  to  her  companions  with  so  much  charity  and  humility, 
and  of  herself  so  basely  and  contemptuously,  whilst  a  few  moments  pre 
viously  she  had  been  heard  and  seen  talking  so  sublimely  on  exalted 

Though  the  pains  of  her  illness,  above  described,  had  been  so  long 
and  excessive,  not  only  did  they  not  extinguish  in  her  the  desire  she 
felt  of  suffering  for  the  love  of  God,  but  it  seems,  having  thus  tasted 
suffering,  she  yearned  more  and  more  for  it.  The  kind  superioress  tried 
to  make  sure  of  the  preservation  of  her  health  by  particular  diligence  in 
the  use  of  restoratives  and  by  keeping  far  from  her  anything  that  might 
cause  her  pain  ;  she,  on  the  contrary,  tried  in  every  manner  and  devised 
every  means  to  suffer  much,  but  without  being  noticed  by  anyone. 
There  was  a  lay-novice  of  great  simplicity,  and  our  Saint,  ingenious  in 
her  holiness,  made  good  use  of  her  in  the  exercise  of  her  own  sufferings. 
The  mistress  would  order  this  lay-sister  to  prepare  a  specially  tasty  pot 
tage  for  Sister  Mary  Magdalen ;  but  she  would  persuade  the  lay-sister 
to  bring  her,  instead,  a  small  slice  of  bread  in  boiled  water  without  salt, 
telling  her  that  this  was  better  for  her.  She  would  also  have  her  bring 
to  the  doorkeepers  the  collation  that  was  sent  her,  that  they  might 
give  it  to  the  poor,  for  the  love  of  God ;  and  she  would  take  for  herself 
a  bitter  drink  made  from  herbs,  saying  that  this  was  better  for  her 
stomach.  Perhaps  the  Saint  wished  by  this  suffering  to  experience  in 
herself  the  passion  of  her  Divine  Spouse,  embittered  in  His  last  hours  by 
gall,  whilst  He  was  dying  on  the  cross  for  the  redemption  of  souls.  It 
was  only  after  the  death  of  the  Saint  that  the  simple  lay-sister  told  of 
her  condescensions.  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  devised  also,  about  that 
time,  a  kind  of  suffering-,  by  her  called  hidden,  which  she  continued 
throughout  the  course  of  her  life.  It  was  that,  noticing  how  the  supe 
rioresses  studied  to  please  and  satisfy  her  every  wish  or  desire,  not  to 
say  need  (they  so  much  valued  her  preservation),  she,  with  virtuous 
industry,  or  rather  with  marked  victory  over  herself,  "would  pretend  that 
what  she  liked  and  preferred  gave  her  annoyance  and  pain  ;  and,  on  the 
contrary,  that  a  thing  would  please  and  delight  her  for  which  in  reality 
she  felt  repugnance  and  antipathy.  It  happened  very  often  that  things 
were  done  for  her,  or  ordered,  that  she  very  much  disliked,  and  things  for 
bidden  her  which  would  have  been  very  much  to  her  taste.  Hence,  she 
was  living  in  a  continuous  act  of  mortification  and  abnegation  of  her 
own  will,  and  frequently  in  bodily  pain  and  travail.  What  crowned 
this  heroic  exercise  was  the  virtue  of  humility,  by  which  this  would 
have  remained  unknown  (as  the  nuns  never  noticed  it)  if  she  had  not 
indirectly  betrayed  herself  to  the  other  novices  by  suggesting  to  them 
this  means  of  suffering  for  their  greater  perfection.  They  well  under 
stood  that,  before  proposing  it  to  others,  she  had  long  adopted  and 
practiced  it.  It  is  to  be  remarked  that  in  hiding  the  truth  Sister  Mary 
Magdalen  De-Pazzi  was  very  careful  not  to  offend  against  it  in  any  way, 
because  if  we  are  not  always  bound  to  manifest  the  truth,  we  are  never 
permitted  to  advance  falsehood ;  hence,  that  language  of  the  world 


(sometimes  adopted,  alas  !  even  by  those  whose  strict  duty  it  is  to  diffuse 
the  sovereign,  unfailing  light)  which  openly  says  yes  for  no,  and  vice 
versa,  is  at  variance  with  the  Gospel  and  with  God.  Consequently,  it 
takes  from  society  the  foundation  of  justice,  the  only  bond  that  makes 
compacts  inviolable,  insures  friendship,  guarantees  peace,  safety,  and 
public  weal ;  and  everybody,  especially  if  weak  and  poor,  has  to-day 
cause  for  deeply  regretting  it. 

The  light  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen's  great  sanctity  shone  in  her 
works,  and  even  from  her  countenance  some  ray  of  God's  spirit  was 
apparent.  By  simply  seeing  her  face,  strangers  judged  her  to  be  a 
nun  of  rare  perfection.  Hence,  those  girls  who  entered  the  monastery 
on  trial,  as  we  have  seen  happened  at  the  beginning  of  her  novitiate, 
felt  irresistibly  drawn  towards  the  Saint  by  a  hidden  force  of  affection 
and  reverence ;  and  if  any  one  of  them,  as  also  happened,  had  entered 
with  a  doubt  of  her  vocation  for  becoming  a  nun,  by  dealing  with 
her  she  would  feel  her  will  become  prodigiously  deliberate  and  firm  to 
remain  there  and  not  to  serve  God  by  the  religious  vows  elsewhere.  So 
powerful  with  the  Saints  is  divine  virtue,  that  it  preaches  by  the 
actions  and  the  very  presence,  no  less  than  by  words.  A  wonderful 
thing  happened  to  a  mere  country  girl  who  took  on  the  habit  of  a  lay- 
sister  in  this  monastery.  That  she  might  more  easily  and  efficaciously 
become  instructed  in  the  duties  of  a  Religious,  the  confessor  often 
exhorted  her  to  stay  in  Sister  Mary  Magdalen's  company ;  but,  on 
account  of  her  ignorance  and  simplicity,  she  could  not  remember  her 
name,  though  she  greatly  wished  to.  She  could  not  distinguish  the  Saint 
from  the  rest,  though,  as  she  afterwards  confessed,  her  face  indicated 
to  her  a  virtue  altogether  singular.  She  would  ask  the  sisters  to  point 
her  out  to  her ;  and  they,  pleased  at  such  marked  simplicity,  refused  to 
comply  ;  but  God,  who  has  a  predilection  for  a  simple  and  ingenuous 
heart,  consoled  the  lay-sister,  and  gave  a  new  manifestation  of  the 
sanctity  of  His  seraphic  bride.  One  morning,  whilst  that  religious  com 
munity  was  hearing  the  Holy  Mass  in  the  choir,  the  lay-sister  had  a 
great  desire  to  know  which  of  the  nuns  was  our  Saint.  L,ooking  first 
at  one  and  then  at  another,  she  saw  a  great  light  suddenly  sur 
rounding  one  of  them ;  and  in  that  light  she  perceived  a  most  beautiful 
child,  who  caressed  the  nun.  From  this  she  became  assured  that  this 
was  the  Saint ;  and,  not  doubting  but  that  the  child  was  Jesus  who  so 
favored  His  beloved  one,  she  was  so  overcome  by  sacred  fear  that,  unable 
longer  to  endure  such  a  sight,  she  was  compelled  to  leave  the  choir, 
frightened,  not  even  knowing  whither  she  was  going.  In  the  corri 
dor  which  led  from  the  interior  sacristy  to  the  choir,  she  was  met  by 
two  nuns.  They  were  surprised  at  her  strange  and  uncertain  move 
ments,  and  stopped  her  to  ask  the  cause  of  her  conduct.  She  openly 
related  to  them  what  she  had  seen  and  experienced,  and  then,  having 
become  quieted,  she  returned  with  them  to  the  choir,  where  with  great 
fervor  she  thanked  God,  who,  by  means  of  divine  light,  had  assured  her 
recognition  of  the  person,  and  now  reminded  her  of  her  name,  Sister 
Mary  Magdalen,  in  such  a  way  that  she  would  never  forget  it  again. 
The  simplicity  of  this  lay-sister  earned  for  her  at  other  times  similar 
favors,  and  especially  when  the  Saint  was  making  bread  with  the  other 

ST.   MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZ2I.  57 

nuns  this  lay -sister  saw  Jesus  around  her  in  the  same  form,  who  would 
make  light  for  her  when  she  through  her  humility  would  carry  the  bread 
to  the  bakery.  She  also  saw  an  image  of  the  Virgin  in  relief,  in  the  choir, 
raising  her  hand  and  blessing  the  Saint.  These  visions  which  God  made 
use  of  to  confirm  her  in  her  opinion  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen's  sanctity, 
caused  her  always  to  venerate  the  Saint  with  special  respect  and  distinct 
and  affectionate  devotion.  But  the  Lord  God  was  not  satisfied  with 
decorating  His  servant  with  these  splendors ;  He  wanted  to  form  her 
entirely  according  to  His  own  heart. 

On  Tuesday,  May  2ist,  1585,  our  Saint  was  busy  working  in  the 
monastery,  when,  feeling  an  extraordinary  throbbing  of  the  heart,  she 
resolved  to  return  to  the  novitiate.  She  had  scarcely  arrived  when 
she  was  thrown  to  the  ground  by  an  unseen  force,  and  remained  there 
a  long  time  as  if  dead.  Then  she  uttered  these  words :  u  Lord,  what  dost 
Thou  want  of  me?  perhaps  the  exterior  for  the  interior?"  And  she 
understood  that  God  desired  that  in  future  she  should  feed  on  bread  and 
water  only,  except  on  feast-days,  when  she  was  to  have  lenten  fare ;  and 
this  was  to  atone  for  offenses  which  sinners  offered  to  God.  God  then 
showed  her  the  reward  prepared  for  those  who,  for  His  love,  deprive 
themselves  of  the  pleasures  of  the  world,  and,  continuing  in  the  ecstasy, 
she  exclaimed  with  an  accent  of  astonishment:  uOh!  how  sweet  and 
charming  is  the  place,  but  great  are  the  works  that  must  be  performed 
by  those  who  wish  to  reach  there."  As  the  fast  prescribed  for  her 
seemed  to  her  but  a  small  work  compared  to  the  happiness  she  saw  pre 
pared  for  her  soul,  she  added  :  "  If  it  were  sufficient,  O  my  God,  for  the 
salvation  of  creatures,  I  would  live  a  thousand  years  in  this  world,  and 
I  would  think  myself  happy.  Thy  Word  made  me  ask  that  I  might 
suffer  some  pain  for  Thy  creatures  ;  Thou  art  satisfied  with  this  ;  so  be 
it."  She  continued,  then,  to  speak  in  this  way  :  "  Thou  art  truly  pow 
erful,  O  my  God,  as,  if  Thou  hadst  not  called  me  thus,  and  also  thrown 
me  to  the  ground,  I  would  not  have  answered  Thee.  May  Thy  will 
always  be  done.  I  wish  rather  to  die  than  to  offend  Thy  exalted  purity. 
But  I  wish  to  rest  all  in  Thee  ;  as,  by  remaining  united  to  Thee,  I  know 
that  nothing  will  trouble  me.  Grant  me,  then,  this  favor,  O  my  Jesus, 
that  I  may  continually  rest  in  Thy  divine  will."  On  the  following 
Thursday,  as  she  was  reciting  the  divine  office  with  another  sister,  she 
was  again  thrown  to  the  ground  ;  and  being  immediately  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
flushed  in  the  face,  and  with  her  eyes  fixed  on  heaven,  she  said  with 
trebled  force:  "Adsum,  adsum,  adsum" — UI  am  present;"  and,  in  the 
person  of  the  Eternal  Father,  she  added :  "  I  call  thee  that  thou  mayest 
follow  My  vocation  and  request,  as  I  have  already  shown  thee."  And 
then,  in  her  own  person  :  "  Thou  art  truly  great  and  powerful."  After 
this,  she  remained  over  half  an  hour  in  silent  contemplation,  and  then 
came  to  herself.  But  she  remained  somewhat  perplexed  by  this  vision,  as 
she  saw  herself  in  a  painful  dilemma — not  to  fulfill,  on  one  side,  the  Divine 
will,  which  she  loved  greatly  ;  and  not  to  be  able  to  avoid,  on  the  other  side, 
making  herself  singular  in  the  community,  to  both  of  which  her  humble 
spirit  was  equally  repugnant.  Reflecting  longer  on  it,  she  began  to  fear 
lest  it  might  not  be  God  who  wanted  her  to  lead  such  a  mode  of  life.  She 
dared  not  speak  of  it  to  her  confessor,  nor  to  anyone  in  the  monastery, 

58  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

as  she  thought  they  would  be  opposed  to  her  in  this  matter.  But  God, 
who  exacted  from  her  this  peculiar  mortification,  on  the  following  day — 
that  is,  on  Friday — gave  her  additional  proof  of  it.  Whilst  she  was 
with  the  novices,  again,  and  with  even  greater  force,  she  was  thrown  to 
the  ground.  There  she  remained  speechless  for  a  while  ;  then,  in  the 
person  of  the  Eternal  Father,  she  said:  u  Crastina  die  nihil  gusta- 
bis,  nisi  panem  et  aquam ;  et  si  hoc  non  fades,  retraham  a  te  oculos 
meos — 'To-morrow  thou  shalt  taste  but  bread  and  water  ;  and,  if  thou 
failest  to  do  it,  I  will  withdraw  My  eyes  from  thee.'  But  if  thou 
wilt  do  what  I  have  shown  to  thee,  thus  doing  My  will  and  that  of 
the  Word,  who,  with  so  much  love  gave  and  gives  Himself  to  thee, 
I  will  be  pleased  in  thee,  as  I  have  been  thus  far.  And  if  thou 
wilt  that  thy  work  be  acceptable  to  Me,  let  this  exterior  action  which  I 
demand  of  thee  be  wholly  voluntary.  It  will  be  like  a  mirror  to  your 
mind ;  and  fear  not  what  thy  adversary  will  do  against  thee,  as  I  will 
never  let  him  prevail  against  thy  person.  I  will  give  thy  mind  in  charge 
of  angels,  that  they  may  guard  it.  The  Mother  of  My  only-begotten  Sou 
will  be  thy  guardian,  that  thou  mayst  not  lose  the  impress  of  the  passion 
of  the  Word,  which  I  have  engraved  on  thy  heart ;  and  be  perfectly  sure 
that  thy  desires  will  be  unknown  to  the  devil,  thy  enemy,  and  I  will 
fulfill  all  thy  wishes."  Here  she  became  silent;  and,  for  a  while,  it 
seemed  that  her  thought  was  in  suspense  ;  then,  sending  forth  a  deep 
sigh,  and  crossing  her  arms,  she  bowed  her  head,  and  said  of  herself, 
wholly  submissive  to  the  Divine  Will:  "Non  moriar,  sed  adimplebo 
opera  tua"—"l  shall  not  die  *  *  *  but  will  fulfill  Thy  works"  (Ps. 
cxvii,  17).  Having  uttered  these  words-,  she  came  to  herself,  and  by  the 
command  of  obedience  which  compelled  her  to  manifest  to  some  nuns, 
deputed  for  that  purpose,  all  she  saw  or  heard  during  her  ecstasy,  she  at 
once  faithfully  related  to  them  what  we  have  said  about  the  above  three 
wonders  of  the  omnipotence  and  goodness  of  God.  Afterwards  she 
spoke  of  it  also  to  her  father  confessor,  who,  in  common  with  the 
mothers,  doubted  lest  some  artifice  of  the  devil  might  be  concealed  under 
such  austerity  and  singularity  of  fast.  Both  he  and  they  answered 
her  that  they  would  not  permit  her  to  lead  such  a  peculiar  life  ;  and 
that  she  must  submit  in  obedience,  and  take  the  food  prepared  for  the 
community.  She  promptly  submitted  to  it ;  not  only  with  her  will,  but 
also  with  her  judgment ;  sure  that  if  God  wanted  it,  He  would  have 
moved  the  minds  of  those  who  held  His  place  so  that  they  might  incline 
to  her  favor.  In  fact,  Divine  Providence  was  not  slow  to  manifest 
in  His  faithful  servant  such  signs  of  His  supreme  will,  that  no  room 
could  be  left  for  anyone  to  doubt  it.  On  the  following  day,  she  sat  at 
the  table  for  the  common  meal,  intending,  for  the  sake  of  obedience,  to 
eat  what  the  rest  did.  When  she  tried  to  do  so,  however,  she  felt  such 
a  revolting  feeling  at  the  stomach  that  she  was  unable  to  take  even  the 
least  amount  of  soup  or  a  drop  of  wine.  If  she  would  force  herself  to 
take  even  a  little,  she  would  be  seized  with  a  violent  attack  of  vomiting, 
with  hemorihages.  Bread  and  water  only  could  she  take  and  retain 
naturally  and  with  ease.  Because  of  this,  the  confessor  renewed  the  ex 
periment;  and  he  and  the  nuns  who  had  witnessed  both  the  first  and  sec 
ond  attacks,  the.  latter  of  which  happened  on  the  evening  of  the  same  day, 


thought  that  to  resist  this  desire  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  was  to  resist  the 
pure  will  of  God  ;  hence  they  allowed  her  to  follow  her  will  in  this  new 
mode  of  living  so  divinely  outlined.  And,  glad  beyond  saying,  for 
this  concession  which  freed  her  from  so  many  anxieties,  on  the  succeeding 
day,  which  was  the  25th  of  May,  1585,  being  nineteen  years  of  age,  she 
immediately  began  to  fulfill  the  fast  imposed  upon  her,  of  bread  and 
water  on  ferial  days,  and  lenten  food  on  feast-days.  She  persevered  in 
this  fast  with  unalterable  fidelity  for  several  years,  until  the  moment 
when  it  pleased  God  to  order  her  to  do  otherwise. 

As  far  as  possible,  she  took  care  also  to  hide  the  virtue  of  these  acts, 
saying  that  God  permitted  her  to  do  this  on  account  of  her  sins,  because 
of  which  she  was  unworthy  to  take  food  like  the  rest ;  and,  also,  that 
this  system  was  the  best  for  her  health — for  her  humility  ;  in  a  word, 
reasons  were  not  wanting  for  humiliating  herself,  although  it  had  the 
opposite  effect.  The  more  she  humbled  herself,  the  higher  grew  the  good 
opinion  of  her  in  the  minds  of  others,  according  to  the  well-known  Gos 
pel  principle,  that  he  who  humbleth  himself  shall  be  exalted,  and  he  who 
exalteth  himself  shall  be  humbled.  On  the  26th,  being  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
the  Eternal  Father  again  confirmed  the  manner  of  her  taking  food  ;  and 
He  told  her,  moreover,  that  it  was  His  will  that  her  rest  should  not  exceed 
five  hours,  and  that  the  straw  mattress  alone  was  to  be  her  ordinary  bed. 
He  also  wanted  her  words  to  be  words  of  meekness,  of  truth,  of  justice; 
her  understanding  to  be  as  if  dead,  not  only  without  investigating  the 
things  of  others,  but  not  even  her  own  ;  her  memory  to  be  forgetful  of 
every  other  thing  except  the  benefits  received  from  Him  ;  her  will  de 
sirous  of  nothing  in  the  world,  but  only  intent  on  fulfilling  what  would 
be  pleasing  to  Him.  Finally,  He  wanted  her  to  wholly  resign  herself 
to  His  providence,  and  place  herself  in  His  arms  as  if  dead.  And  in 
truth,  the  life  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  was  so  directed  by  the  will  of  God, 
and  so  submitted  to  the  same,  that  it  became  a  miracle  of  perfection,  and 
a  token  of  most  complete  sacrifice  to  the  majesty  of  the  Most  High. 







]O  holy  souls,  not  only  the  consolations  but  also  the  aridities 
of  spirit  are  a  heavenly  gift,  as  they  firmly  believe  that  both 
the  one  and  the  other  proceed  from  the  same  Hand  that 
ceases  not  for  a  moment  to  provide  for  our  welfare.  Nay, 
as  they  draw  from  the  desolations  a  stronger  argument  for 
doing  penance,  they  become  united  through  them  with 
greater  sweetness  and  efficacy  to  the  Divine  Goodness. 
Thus  it  happened  to  this  great  servant  of  God  in  the  temp 
tations  and  trials  she  endured  for  five  whole  years,  as  she  therein  found 
the  means  to  conform  herself  better  to  the  Divine  Will,  and  to  obey 
Him  who  had  so  marvelously  manifested  everything  to  her.  God  made 
known  to  her  that,  like  Daniel,  she  would  enter  the  lion's  den,  viz.,  that 
she  would  be  assailed  and  harassed  by  most  horrible  temptations  ;  but  in 
the  end,  like  refined  gold,  she  would  come  out  of  the  furnace  of  the 
tempting  devils  to  become  more  acceptable  to  her  most  pure  Spouse, 
Jesus.  On  the  feast  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  God  revealed  to  her  the  great 
number  of  temptations  she  was  to  endure,  and  the  Saint  saw  legions  of 
devils  under  the  form  of  most  horrible  beasts.  She  grew  pale  and 
trembled  with  fright  at  this  monstrous  spectacle ;  but  strengthened  by 
virtue  she  offered  herself  to  the  Eternal  Father,  ready  to  drink  the  bitter 
chalice  and  ascend  to  Calvary,  to  consummate  there  the  sacrifice  of 
tribulation.  After  this  offering  she  recovered  from  her  ecstasy,  which 
had  lasted  two  hours.  During  this  time,  though  she  heard  painful  news, 
she  was  not,  on  the  other  hand,  left  without  a  sure  and  sweet  token  of 
her  Spouse's  love.  She  learned  that  on  the  same  feast  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  He  would  infuse  Himself  into  her  soul,  to  render  it,  with  an  infusion 
of  sweetness,  strong  against  the  pains  of  her  assailed  spirit ;  and  that  the 
Eternal  Word  would  be  her  guardian,  together  with  the  great  Mother  of 
God,  Saint  Augustine,  Saint  Angelo  the  Carmelite,  and  Saint  Catherine 
of  Siena,  her  tutelary  Saints ;  and  that  she  would  be  strengthened  with 
spiritual  comforts  drawn  from  the  humanity  of  the  Word,  by  whose  per 
fection,  being  made  constant,  she  would  gain  a  splendid  victory  in  all 
those  most  bitter  combats,  and  triumph  most  gloriously  and  completely 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  6 1 

over  hell.  In  the  evening  of  that  same  day,  having  reentered  the 
ecstasy,  she  again  saw  appearing  before  her  a  group  of  devils,  who,  with 
tremendous  shouts  and  terrible  antics,  as  though  they  were  wild  animals, 
threatened  to  kill  and  devour  her.  In  the  meanwhile,  they  suggested 
to  her  mind  the  most  impious  and  wicked  temptations,  so  that  she 
became  extremely  sad  and  afflicted  thereby.  She  uttered  touching  words, 
called  upon  heaven  and  earth  and  the  inhabitants  thereof  to  come  to  her 
rescue.  Turning  to  God,  she  asked :  "Where  is  the  sun  of  Thy  justice? 
To  me  it  seems  obscured.  *  *  *  Hast  Thou,  perchance,  withdrawn  Thy 
goodness  from  me  ?  I  feel  abandoned — like  a  body  without  limbs,  which, 
on  account  of  all  it  suffers,  cannot  of  itself  procure  any  relief."  The  Lord 
gave  her  to  understand  that  she  was  to  endure  these  sufferings  for  the 
sake  of  her  neighbors,  as  she  could  not,  then,  be  of  any  advantage  to  them 
otherwise.  Hence,  she  replied:  "The  accursed  heretics,  for  I  cannot 
call  them  by  any  other  name,  will  cause  me  most  cruel  pain,  because 
though  they  have  once  received  Thy  Spirit,  O  my  God,  yet  they  do  not 
walk  in  it.  Many  brides  also,  weary  of  Thy  restraint,  wrill  provoke  these 
most  ferocious  devils  to  assail  me  and  increase  my  torment.  If,  O  Word, 
these  souls  should  return  to  Thee,  I  would  be  happy ;  and  I  would  be 
satisfied  if  the  devils  should  come  and  torment  me  a  thousand  times.  I 
see  myself  surrounded  on  every  side  by  horrible  monsters,  and,  hear 
ing  their  roars,  I  cannot  keep  myself  from  raising  my  voice  also. 
Should  I  be  forbidden  to  do  it  aloud,  nobody  will  be  able  to  prevent  me 
from  crying  internally  to  my  God,  so  that  I  shall  be  heard.  These 
diabolical  spirits  would  like,  O  my  Jesus,  to  throw  faith  to  the  ground,  do 
away  with  humility,  scorn  purity,  and  place  in  my  heart,  instead  of 
resignation  to  Thee,  a  wicked  will.  I  do  not  wonder,  that,  being  unable 
to  succeed  in  it,  they  return  to  attack  me  with  such  fierceness,  and  try 
to  make  so  great  a  noise  that  I  may  not  notice  the  inspiration  which  pro 
ceeds  from  Thee,  O  my  God.  My  feelings  are  like  those  of  one  con 
demned  to  death,  who  endures  as  much  pain  at  the  sight  of  the  axe  that 
is  to  cut  his  head  off,  as  at  the  very  moment  he  receives  the  fatal  stroke. 
I  know  very  well,  O  my  Lord,  that  if  Thou  shouldst  lessen  the  power  of 
Thy  hand,  they  would  take  my  life.  They  would  truly  take  out  my 
very  entrails,  therefore  they  rush  furiously  against  me  ;  but  my  Spouse 
has  put  within  me  His  spirit  and  heart,  and,  having  thus  placed  me 
in  this  hard  trial,  wishes  me  to  suffer  for  His  creatures,  that  they  may 
be  converted  to  Him.  I  recollect,  O  Word,  some  few  shades  Thou 
gavest  me,  under  the  cover  of  which  I  must  remain  for  some  time  that 
I  may  not  hear  such  dreadful  roars  and  terrible  yells,  and  that  I 
may  not  behold  the  horrible  sight  of  the  devils.  But,  O  Eternal  Word, 
I  can  find  no  escape  from  this  lake,  no  matter  whither  I  fly.  What 
shall  I  do,  then  ?  :  *  *  Better  it  will  be  if  I  arm  myself  with  courage 
and  glory  in  suffering.  Redime  me  a  calumniantibus  me!  Gene- 
ratio  mea  ablata  est  et  convuluta  est  a  me.  Oportet  contristari  in  variis 
tentationibus.  Timor  et  tremor  venerunt  super  me,  et  contexerunt  me 
tenebrce.  sEstimatus  sum  tanquam  mortuus  a  corde — 'Redeem  me 
from  those  who  calumniate  me  (Ps.  cxviii,  134).  My  generation  is  at 
an  end  and  it  is  rolled  away  from  me  (Isai.  xxxviii,  12).  Now  you  must 
be  made  sorrowful  in  divers  temptations  (I  Pet.  i,  6).  Fear  and 

62  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

trembling  are  come  upon  me,  and  darkness  hath  covered  me  (Ps.  liv,  6). 
I  am  deemed  as  one  dead  from  the  heart'  (Ps.  xxx,  13).  Stretch  Thy 
right  hand  over  me  and  give  me  strength.  I  know,  O  Word,  that  Thy 
goodness  is  pleased  that  I  should  not  be  deprived  of  the  sense  of  grace 
till  the  coming  of  Thy  vision  (she  meant  the  feast  of  the  Most  Holy 
Trinity) ;  but  that  I  should  rather  contemplate  Thy  greatness  and  that 
of  Thy  Holy  Spirit."  In  fact,  during  the  whole  octave  of  Pente 
cost  this  sense  of  grace  remained  in  the  ecstatic  soul  of  the  Saint; 
but  on  the  morning  of  Trinity  Sunday,  being  still  in  ecstasy,  she 
began  to  exclaim  :  "  O  loving  Word,  the  time  in  which  light  will  fail 
is  drawing  near,  and  darkness  approaches.  The  light  comes  also, 
but  is  dark ;  the  darkness  comes,  too,  but  it  is  clear.  I  see  the  adver 
saries  with  their  temptations  getting  together,  one  by  one.  Alas  !  like 
bees  around  the  flowers,  they  seem  to  surround  the  soul.  But  Thou,  O 
Word,  pressing  down  Thy  hand  a  little,  dost  not  let  them  rise,  and 
Thou  sendest  those  Saints  chosen  by  Thee  to  introduce  the  soul  under 
the  most  sweet  shades  already  shown  to  me.  Alas  !  it  is  one  thing  to 
hear  a  thing  spoken  of  and  another  thing  to  suffer  it.  It  is  meet,  O 
Word,  that  Thou,  on  the  day  on  which  we  celebrate  the  feast  of  the 
union — I  mean  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity — shouldst  prepare  for  thy 
bride  an  unusual  and  unknown  union.  Sufficit  mihi  gratia  tua" 
During  these  ecstasies  she  also  understood  that  she  would  have  to 
endure  not  only  the  assaults  of  the  devils,  but  that  she  should  also  pre 
pare  herself  to  suffer  not  a  little  from  her  own  nuns ;  as  some  of  them, 
seeing  her  so  different  from  her  former  condition,  would  rise  a'gainst  her; 
and  the  others,  at  least  losing  the  favorable  opinion  they  had  of  her, 
would  abandon  her,  as  the  apostles  abandoned  Jesus  in  His  passion. 
One  of  the  principals  of  the  monastery  being  present  and  hearing  this, 
said  with  firmness :  "  If  all  should  abandon  thee  and  turn  against 
thee,  I  will  never  forsake  thee."  The  Saint  answered  thus:  "Thou 
shalt  be  the  first  one,  and  thou  shalt  not  leave  this  room  before  thou 
shalt  already  be  changed  and  turned,"  and  it  so  truly  happened.  For  some 
time  she  uttered  no  other  word.  Showing  great  sadness  in  her  counte 
nance,  she  gradually  entered  into  a  mortal  lethargy ;  then,  as  if  with 
the  effort  exerted  shortly  before  final  dissolution,  with  open  arms  and 
with  eyes  looking  as  those  of  one  suffering  the  last  agony,  she  sent  forth 
a  cry  of  fright  at  the  moment  when  she  had  to  succumb  to  the  taking 
of  the  sense  of  grace  from  her.  Here  her  ecstasy  ended,  and  our  Saint 
passed  from  it  to  a  life  of  desolation  and  dryness,  in  which  she  re 
mained  for  five  years  as  though  she  had  never  tasted  anything  of  God, 
but  tasted  all  the  enormity  and  horribleness  of  the  temptations 
which  it  seems  opportune  here  to  describe  separately,  as  follows : 


The  more  Sister  Mary  Magdalen's  soul  remained  void  of  heavenly 
comforts,  the  more  her  imagination  became  filled  with  phantoms  and 
infernal  spectres.  Day  and  night,  wherever  she  found  herself,  in 
whatsoever  exercise,  even  of  piety,  her  mind  was  pained  by  the  sight  of 

At  the  age  of  ten,  she  receives  for  the  first  time  the  Most  Holy 
Communion  (page  21). 



ihe  devil,  who,  appearing  to  her  in  the  most  horrible  and  diverse  forms, 
always  persistently  tried  to  frighten  her.  Hence,  the  bride  of  Christ 
remained  so  afflicted,  that,  as  she  said,  the  pain  of  death  would  have 
been  more  bearable  to  her.  She  seemed  to  be  in  a  veritable  lion's  den, 
where,  being  made  a  target  for  all  the  diabolical  rage,  there  was  no 
insult  that  could  be  contrived  in  hell  which  she  was  not  made  to  suffer.  In 
fact,  there  is  no  torment  of  spirit  imaginable  that  this  soul,  though  most 
innocent,  did  not  endure  during  this  hard  trial.  Sometimes  she  felt  so 
strongly  tempted  that,  against  her  will,  she  would  struggle  outwardly 
also,  and  her  discourse  was  not  always  reasonable.  What  caused  her  the 
greatest  pain  was  the  thought  that  her  acts  of  resistance  to  the 
temptations  were  not  sufficient  to  save  her  from  sin.  It  seemed  to  her 
as  if  her  will  seconded  the  wicked  suggestions,  and  she  were  continually 
offending  God  (and  let  anyone  who  feels  any  great  love  for  God  say 
what  anguish  the  fear  of  offending  Him  causes  a  soul !).  Hence,  these 
were  her  words  :  "  I  have  become  a  pit  of  iniquity,  the  cause  of  all  the 
evils  and  offenses  which  are  committed  against  God ;  so  that  I  know  not 
how  Jesus  and  my  fellow-creatures  tolerate  me  on  earth."  Another  time, 
she  said  that  her  mind  appeared  to  her  like  a  great  dark  and  obscure 
chamber,  in  the  midst  of  which  could  be  seen  the  light  of  a  very 
small  lantern,  that  is  that  indefinable  trace  of  good-will  which  cannot 
be  so  easily  extinguished  in  one  who  has  been  penetrated  by  the 
divine  flames.  During  this  privation  of  intellectual  light  and  devout 
sensibility,  all  the  exercises  of  the  Religion  weighed  upon  her  so  much 
that  she  had  to  act  by  obedience  in  order  to  go  to  the  choir,  the 
refectory,  and  all  other  places,  according  to  the  orders  of  the  community, 
whilst  before  she  used  to  be  naturally  anxious  and  happy  in  obeying 
them.  She  continued  the  holy  habit  of  private  prayers,  but  she 
derived  from  them  no  comfort.  Being  found  at  prayer  by  a  nun  in  a 
room  next  to  the  kitchen,  and  used  as  one,  among  pots  and  pans,  with 
open  doors  and  windows,  and  being  asked  by  the  nun  why  she  had 
placed  herself  there  in  prayer  rather  than  in  a  more  convenient  place, 
with  great  submission  and  bitterness  of  soul,  she  answered:  "  It  is  the 
same  to  me  whether  I  pray  here  or  elsewhere  ;  as,  at  any  rate,  I  find 
myself  much  like  these  earthen  pots  ;  I  have  no  more  strength  to 
raise  my  mind  to  God ;  I  have  become  as  a  worm."  This  desolation 
of  spirit  would  not  have  troubled  or  robbed  her  of  her  peace,  only  that 
she  believed  it  a  sign  of  God's  anger.  As  to  its  being  troublesome 
and  painful,  she  was  most  ready  to  suffer  everything  to  please  God. 
Hence,  on  account  of  her  being  in  such  a  condition  and  her  inability  to 
free  herself  from  it,  with  incessant  tears  and  sighs  she  would  accuse 
herself  of  being  utterly  guilty.  The  continuous  presenting  to  her 
imagination  of  all  the  offenses  offered  to  the  Divine  Majesty — as  God  had 
foretold  her  during  her  eight  days'  ecstasy,  when  she  was  about  to  enter 
this  lake  of  anguish — was  the  cause  of  the  greatest  affliction  to  her. 

Now  she  saw  the  wicked  insults  offered  to  God  by  heretics, 
now  those  of  bad  Christians,  now  the  perfidy  of  the  Jews  and  the  infidels  ; 
but,  above  all,  the  monstrous  ingratitude  of  those  Religious  who  observe 
not  the  rules.  At  times,  she  felt  the  horror  of  the  blasphemies 
uttered  against  God  and  the  Saints  ;  at  times,  the  odor  of  lascivious- 


64  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

ness  and  impurity  ;  the  black  cloud  of  pride ;  the  execrable  stench 
of  sacrilege ;  the  bitterness  of  enmity  and  strife.  She  saw  these 
and  other  consequences  of  the  passions,  leading  man  to  rebel,  even 
against  that  God  from  whose  power  every  impulse  to  our  well-being 
essentially  comes.  All  these  things  deeply  wounded  to  the  quick  the 
heart  of  this  innocent  victim.  Thus  God  wished  to  try  the  fortitude  con 
ferred  on  her  by  the  almost  continuous  heavenly  vision  which  she  enjoyed 
in  the  foregoing  contemplations,  so  that  no  grace  granted  to  her  would 
remain  without  its  exercise  and  test  of  virtue. 



The  devil  assailed  the  unconquerable  faith  of  this  great  Soul  with  a 
snare  which  was  as  impudent  as  it  was  foolish.  He  wanted  no  less  than 
to  convince  her  that  there  was  no  God,  nor  after-life  besides  the  earthly 
one,  transitory  and  frail ;  and  that,  therefore,  it  was  vain  and  superfluous 
to  suffer  for  the  love  of  One  who  does  not  exist,  and  useless  to  labor  for 
an  eternal  life  which  was  purely  imaginary,  as  everything  ends  with 
man's  death.  She  felt  this  erroneous  idea  becoming  so  deeply, im 
pressed  in  her  mind  that  she  became  so  confused  as  to  be  incapable  oi 
recalling  any  of  the  many  powerful  reasons  to  dissipate  it.  Though  hei 
will  was  ever  ready  to  give  up  life  in  any  painful  way  for  the  confession 
of  the  faith,  yet,  not  feeling  the  former  ardor  and  light  she  wished  to 
still  have,  it  seemed  to  her  as  if  she  seconded  the  temptation ;  which 
pained  her  heart  exceedingly.  Moreover,  the  enemy's  cunning  was  re 
markable  in  the  peculiar  choice  of  the  object  of  these  assaults,  which 
was  the  august  Sacrament  of  the  Altar.  He  is  not  ignorant  of  our 
having  in  the  Eucharist  every  weapon  to  win  any  combat — every  good  to 
enrich  our  souls.  The  frequency  and  the  devotion  with  which  St.  Mary 
Magdalen  made  use  of  it  displeased  Satan  very  much;  hence  he  gathered 
about  him  all  his  diabolical  forces  to  distract  the  mind  and  the  heart  oi 
our  Saint  therefrom.  He  wished  to  destroy  in  her  altogether  the 
faith  in  this  most  august  Sacrament,  suggesting  to  her  that  it  was 
idolatry  and  foolishness  to  adore  what  was  introduced  by  the  fanaticism 
or  the  interest  of  men  ;  and  that,  as  a  wise  woman,  she  should  rather 
despise  than  use  a  superstitious  food.  He  then  filled  her  with  such 
repugnance  against  approaching  Holy  Communion,  that,  while  formerly 
she  found  in  it  all  her  comfort  and  delight,  now  she  felt  the  pain  oi 
death.  The  temptations  against  faith  molested  her  more  and  more  in 
the  act  of  receiving  the  Blessed  Sacrament;  and  the  devil,  unable  to 
subdue  her  to  this  unbelief,  as  the  father  of  lies  and  contradiction, 
afflicted  her  on  the  other  hand  by  inspiring  her  with  the  fear  of  receiving 
Holy  Communion  without  being  in  a  state  of  grace.  It  was  easier  to 
persuade  her  of  this  on  account  of  her  great  humility — her  desolation 
and  sadness  of  spirit — of  which  she  was  not  relieved,  even  when  receiving 
Holy  Communion.  Her  soul,  therefore,  was  sorely  afflicted  ;  because, 
in  the  very  source  of  her  delight,  she  found  so  many  reasons  for  grief. 


But  the  enemy  of  souls  failed  to  make  her  diminish  the  usual  frequency ; 
nay,  to  render  herself  stronger  in  such  a  war,  she  then  made  use  of  a 
remedy  which  had  been  suggested  to  her  by  the  Queen  of  Heaven.  It 
was  to  have  it  imposed  on  her  by  obedience  never  so  much  as  to  think  of 
omitting  Holy  Communion.  Having  obtained  this  from  the  superioress, 
she  answered  her  with  promptness  and  joy:  "I  will  try,  with  the  help 
of  Jesus,  to  do  what  has  been  imposed  on  me."  From  this  act,  she  de 
rived  so  much  strength  against  the  temptation  that  she  felt  some  respite 
from  it.  But  the  devil  seeing  that  this  means  robbed  him  of  the  hope 
of  victory,  made  use  of  external  means  to  frighten  the  humble  maid. 
As  she  approached  the  small  window  to  receive  Holy  Communion,  a 
horrid  monster  appeared  to  her  imagination,  which — full  of  wrath  and 
fury,  its  eyes  flashing  fire,  its  mouth  vomiting  flames,  a  naked  sword  in 
its  hand — threatened  her  with  death  if  she  dared  to  approach.  At  this 
sight,  she  became  so  dismayed  that  she  had  not  strength  to  move  a  step 
farther;  and  it  became  necessary  that  the  spiritual  director  should  en 
courage  and  exhort  her  to  approach  without  fear.  As  he  saw  the 
temptation  did  not  cease,  he  prudently  thought  of  giving  her  Holy 
Communion  by  herself  until  he  knew  her  to  be  free  from  this  trouble. 
Though  the  Communions  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  were  deprived  of 
spiritual  light,  yet  they  were  not  without  profit,  as  she  would  draw  from 
them* great  courage  and  an  invincible  constancy  to  fight  against  such 
fierce  adversaries.  Though  so  long  assailed,  she  never  gave  up  the  field  to 
the  enemy,  nor  did  she  doubt  the  Divine  help.  This,  at  times,  made 
itself  powerfully  felt,  and  occasionally,  in  the  course  of  those  five  years, 
even  ineffably  sweet  ;  so  that,  as  a  restorative  of  the  spirit,  it  reinvigo- 
rated  and  stimulated  her,  even  causing  her  to  wish  for  new  difficulties 
and  new  pains  for  the  love  of  God. 




The  above  temptation  against  faith  was  accompanied  by  the  most 
horrible  one  of  blasphemy  ;  for  in  the  very  act  when  the  devil  tried  to 
make  her  disbelieve  in  God,  he  impiously  excited  her  to  blaspheme 
Him.  This  was  not  a  mere  suggestion,  but  was  so  live  and  fierce  that 
she  seemed  to  hear,  as  if  they  were  present,  the  voices  of  the  most  wicked 
and  impudent  blasphemers  who  crowd  together  in  a  tavern  and  appear  to 
vie  with  each  other  to  see  which  of  them  can  best  turn  himself  into  a 
Satan.  This  happened  to  her  more  particularly  when  reciting  the  divine 
office.  Though  she  tried  with  all  possible  care  to  apply  her  mind  and 
heart  to  sing  the  divine  praises,  the  envious  enemy,  to  prevent  her 
doing  this  good,  filled  her  ears  with  such  execrable  blasphemy  that  she 
was  not  only  compelled  to  distract  her  attention,  which  was  intent  on 
doing  contrary  things,  but,  even  in  pronouncing  the  sacred  words,  it 
seemed  to  her  that  she  pronounced,  instead,  those  very  blasphemies,  so 
sharply  was  she  tempted.  All  sorrowful  and  with  a  most  touching 
expression  she  used  to  say  to  her  companions:  "Ah!  sisters,  pray  to 

66  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

Jesus  for  me,  lest,  instead  of  praising  God,  I  blaspheme  Him !"  It  is 
useless  to  attempt  to  prove  what  painful  torture  this  temptation  was  to 
her  heart ;  she  who  was  so  inflamed  with  the  love  of  God  and  full  of 
zeal  for  His  glory  that  she  would  have  submitted  to  the  most  severe 
labors,  to  the  most  cruel  torments,  even  to  be  thrown  alive  into  the  fire, 
that  God  might  be  loved,  blessed,  and  glorified.  Let  anyone  think 
how  deep  a  wound  is  naturally  inflicted  on  one's  heart  by  the  hearing  of 
calumnies  and  maledictions  uttered  against  the  visible  object  he  loves 
and  worships,  and,  worse,  to  find  himself  provoked  to  become  an  accom 
plice  in  them.  Then  comparing  this  earthly  object,  this  worm  crawl 
ing  along  in  the  mud,  filthy  in  the  extreme,  with  the  God  of  majesty, 
of  love,  of  glory,  in  whom  all  the  beauties,  and  riches,  and  perfections 
of  creation  are  united,  let  him  judge,  as  far  as  possible,  of  the  intensity 
of  the  sorrow  that  the  above  temptation  caused  to  a  soul  like  that  of  Saint 
Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi.  Hence,  she  continually  practiced  acts  in  oppo- 
'  sition  to  that  inward  temptation,  and  outwardly  recited,  as  well  as  she 
could  use  her  voice,  praises  and  benedictions  to  the  Lord. 

Following  the  temptation  of  blasphemy,  another,  one  of  contempt 
for  sacred  images,  came  to  assail  her,  the  devil  presenting  to  her  all  that 
seems  most  silly  and  ridiculous  in  them,  so  that  she  had  to  make  a  great 
effort  to  look  at  them  with  patient  eyes.  The  enemy  was  vanquished  by 
her  constancy.  Whilst  she  not  only  venerated  them  more  fervently  and 
contemplated  them  with  presence  of  mind,  praying  before  them, — God,  to 
the  greater  triumph  of  His  invincible  heroine,  wrought  several  miracles, 
through  her  intercession,  on  her  behalf,  or  for  others,  as  we  shall  see  in 
the  course  of  this  history,  making  use  of  the  sacred  images,  that  is,  of 
those  very  means  of  which  the  malignant  enemy  made  use  to  assail  and 
fight  her. 


The  sagacious  enemy  of  souls  did  not  fail  to  take  advantage  of  the 
desolation  and  aridity  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  to  assail  her  with  a  master 
stroke  on  that  side  where  she  least  suspected  an  attack.  On  account  of 
her  excessive  humility,  as  we  have  already  seen,  she  readily  believed 
herself  unworthy  of  the  Divine  favor,  and  rather  deserving  of  any  pun 
ishment.  Many  of  the  beautiful  communications,  and  many  marked 
I  privileges  by  which  God  had  favored  her  in  the  preceding  years  had 
become  like  so  many  sharp  thorns  to  her  heart.  She  feared  all  might 
have  been  illusion  with  her,  and  that  now  she  was  justly  punished  "for 
them  by  the  Divine  Justice.  Hence  the  devil  redoubled  his  malign 
forces,  supposing  it  to  be  very  easy  to  lead  her,  as  if  by  the  hand,  and 
by  the  road  she  herself  had  opened,  though  innocently  and  virtuously, 
to  the  depths  of  the  abyss  of  despair.  He  suggested  to  her  the  most 
gloomy  images  of  deceit,  of  terror,  of  vengeance.  All  was  lost  to  her  he 
told  her,  and  any  effort  to  raise  herself  to  God  was  useless,  since 
He  had  irrevocably  rejected  her;  useless  all  prayers  to  appease  Him 
since  the  sentence  of  reprobation  had  already  been  pronounced  against 
er,  and  it  was  impossible  to  have  it  revoked ;  useless  all  sacrifice 


as  God  does  not  accept  the  offerings  of  reprobate  souls.  Satan  told  her 
that  Jesus,  whom  she  called  her  Bridegroom,  and  in  whom  she  delighted 
so  much,  was  but  her  enemy ;  the  most  shameful  and  terrible  conse 
quences  of  His  wrath  she  would  soon  feel,  in  the  everlasting  punishment 
of  her  hypocrisy,  her  false  devotion,  and  her  continuous  sinning.  Dis 
tressed  and  torn  with  anguish  by  such  painful  thoughts,  especially  by 
that  of  being,  through  her  own  fault,  separated  from  her  good  God,  and, 
seeing  that  her  protestations  of  confidence  and  resignation  were  not 
responded  to  as  she  wished,  on  account  of  the  barrenness  of  her  spirit,  she 
fell  into  such  an  excess  of  bitterness  and  discouragement  that  she  posi 
tively  regarded  death  to  be  a  lesser  evil  than  the  continuance  of  such  a  bad 
life.  "How,"  she  would  say,  "  can  I  live,  being  an  enemy  of  God,  and  a 
scandal  to  the  monastery  and  the  whole  world?" 

Thus  she  gradually  came  to  wish  for  her  death.  Hotly  pursued 
more  and  more  by  her  enemy  and  her  own  imagination,  which  at  this 
time  was  fully  a  prey  to  the  phantom  of  terror,  the  thought  made 
its  way  into  her  mind  that  the  best  thing  for  her  would  be  to  put  an  end 
to  a  life  which  had  become  to  her  wholly  unbearable.  It  was  the  night 
preceding  the  feast  of  St.  Andrew,  Apostle.  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  was 
in  the  choir  with  the  other  sisters,  reciting  matin,  when,  carried  away1  by 
the  vehemence  of  the  temptation,  she  suddenly  came  out  of  the  choir, 
and,  quickly  crossing  part  of  the  corridor  and  some  cells,  reached  the 
dodr  of  the  refectory  towards  which  she  was  going.  The  pale  light  of  a 
community  lamp,  placed  at  the  end  of  the  corridor,  shone  into  it  through 
two  windows.  The  door  of  this  room  was  not  closed  tightly,  and 
allowed  a  glimmer  of  light  to  reach  the  wash-room,  which  adjoined. 
She  entered  this  room,  led  more  by  her  knowledge  than  by  the  feeble 
light.  Stopping  at  the  first  table  she  grabbed  a  knife,  and,  with  it  in 
hand,  she  ran  back  to  the  choir  so  as  not  to  give  in  to  the  infernal  sug 
gestion,  but  rather  to  obtain  a  more  complete  victory  over  the  enemy, 
for  which  end  God  permitted  this  aberration  in  her.  In  fact,  she  did 
not  perceive  that  she  was  noticed  by  all  the  nuns,  and  did  not  pay  any 
attention  to  them.  They,  naturally  amazed  at  such  a  strange  occur 
rence,  anxiously  asked  her  the  reason  for  it,  but  without  answering  she 
swiftly  ascended  the  Blessed  Virgin's  altar.  There,  placing  the  knife  in 
Mary's  hands,  she  knelt  and  prayed  before  her  for  some  time  writh  the 
most  touching  expressions,  asking  her  the  grace  to  triumph  over  such  a 
temptation.  Then  descending  to  the  ground  and  having  placed  that 
same  knife  under  her  feet,  she  trampled  upon  it  several  times  with  the 
greatest  contempt,  subduing  by  this  act  o  f  strong  determination  the  enemy 
and  his  arms.  When  she  came  to  herself  she  continued  with  the  nuns  the 
recital  of  the  divine  praises.  Another  time,  in  order  that  the  like  temp 
tation  would  not  go  so  far,  she  asked  to  be  imprisoned  in  the  cell  of  the 
mother  prioress,  where  God,  to  reward  her  humility,  granted  her  some 
thing  of  the  old  consolation,  and  strengthened  her  with  new  vigor  to 
resist  victoriously  in  this  spiritual  combat.  She  well  needed  it,  as  Satan 
was  to  attack  her  again,  though  less  audacious  in  appearance,  yet  more 
dangerous  in  his  true  nature.  Without  openly  offending  her  faith  the 
enemy  infested  her  mind,  about  the  religious  vocation,  with  such 
J:li  oughts  as  these :  "  Thou  art  damned  by  thine  own  will  only  ;  thoti 

68  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OK 

didst   mistake  thy  vocation,   and,  therefore,  thou  walkest  over  a  road 
which  for  thee  is  all  ruin.     God  wanted  thee  in  the  world,  where  thou 
mightest   have  done  much  good   for  thyself  and   thy  fellow-creatures. 
Being  a  good  mother  of  a  family,  thou  wouldst  have  been  the  comfort  of 
thy  partner,  the  salvation  of  thy  children,   the  edification  of  all.     See, 
O    wretched    one,    how   much    thou   hast    forever   left   behind    thee! 
Buried  in  this  monastery,  thou  losest  thyself,  and  savest  nobody.     Re 
pair,  therefore,  whilst  thou  art  able,  at  the  present  time,  an  evil  which 
is  about  to  become  irreparable.     Divest  thyself  of  this  habit ;  leave  this 
monastery ;  go  back  to  worldly  society ;  enter  at  once  that  road  which 
Providence  has  traced  for  thee."     So  sagaciously  importunate  was  this 
infernal  enemy  becoming  in  order  to  seduce  the  Virgin  of  Christ;  but 
he  found  her  to  be  so  strong  a  bulwark  that  the  arrows  sent  against  it 
returned  with  double  fury  to  the  point  of  starting.      One  day,  in  order  to 
overcome  the  attack,  which  was  unusually  overpowering,  with  a  rope 
around  her  neck  and  her  hands  tied  behind  her,  like  one  condemned  to 
death,  she  went  to  the  mother  prioress,  and  in  the  presence  of  some  sisters, 
asked,  for  the  love  of  God,  the  religious  habit.     At  another  time,  on  a 
similar   occasion,    and   perhaps  a  graver  one,    as  she   was  particularly 
tempted  to  go  to  the  main  door  to  leave  the  cloister  while  the  doorkeeper 
was  absent,  she  ran  to  take  the  keys  of  the  monastery,  and,  to  confound 
the  devil  more,  went  to  lay  them  at  the  foot  of  the  Crucifix.     Thus  she 
bafHed  the  artifices  of  hell.     She  wept  inconsolably  over  the  sins  she 
feared  she  was  committing,  judging  herself  to  be  the  greatest  sinner  in 
the  world,  and,  therefore,  unworthy  of  living   in    the  sacred   cloister. 
She  used  to  wonder  why  the  earth  did  not  open  under  her  feet,  espe 
cially  when  she  was  approaching  Holy  Communion.      For  all  this  God 
rewarded  her,  and  gloriously  placed  her  above  all  snares,  no  matter  how 
malignant  and  formidable. 


The  arm  of  terror  having  proved  of  no  avail  to  overthrow  this 
valiant  servant  of  Jesus,  Lucifer  turned  his  efforts  to  inspire  her  with 
his  dearest  sentiment,  by  which  he  sits  over  all,  as  prince  in  the  kino-. 
dom  of  darkness,  crowned  with  a  crown  of  ignomy,  of  opprobium,  and 
pt  torment      Always  a  liar,  and  inconsistent,  as  are  also  all  his  followers 
I  in  this  world,  he  pretended  to  make  her  grow  proud  by  the  very  means 
had   used    to   draw  her   to   despair.     He   would    place    under  her 
eyes  the  many  gifts  with  which  God  had  endowed  her,  both  in  nature 
1  m  virtue;  the  many  celestial  and  extraordinary  favors  which  proved 
I     7°n(la  d°Ubt;  the  many  communications  of  special  love 
7   T/1  DlVme,  ?-P°USe  ;  ^rytKng,  in  a  word,  that  could 
n  meHtt     £     ^  '°  d£h*ht/nd  ^ory,  and  believe  herself  superior 

suhmi t    V       n       f     H,C  SUddenly  filled  her  With  a  repugnance  to 
submit  to  the  will  of  another,  as  if  she  were  one  who  beim?  guided 

frwT^WV?^  n°,hUman  C°Unsd>  nor  to  strict! "fol 

ow  the  orders  of  the  Religion,  which  savors  too  much  of  materiality 

and,    therefore,  suits   but    rude   and    imperfect   souls.     But,   oh  !    how 


L,ucifer  deceived  himself  when  he  hoped  to  shake  and  vanquish  St.  Mary 
Magdalen,  in  humility  and  obedience,  virtues  that  were  so  deeply  and  firmly 
rooted  in  her  that  she  seemed  confirmed  in  them  by  the  divine  grace,  as 
the  Apostles  were  confirmed  in  all  of  them  after  the  descent  of  the  Holy 
Ghost.  In  fact,  though  strongly  molested,  it  was  not  difficult  for  her 
to  oppose  contrary  acts,  as  her  habits  naturally  and  easily  led  her  to 
them.  There  was  no  case  in  which  she  was  led  to  transgress  the  least 
rule  or  order  of  the  superioress ;  nay,  by  the  very  reason  of  being  tempted, 
she  became  more  solicitous  and  exact,  both  in  humbling  herself  and  in 
obeying.  Sometimes  she  would  renew  in  the  presence  of  the  other 
nuns  the  vow  of  obedience  to  the  superioress ;  often  she  would  have  her 
command  her,  in  virtue  of  this  obedience,  to  do  all  that  was  prescribed 
for  her,  and  especially  that  towards  which  she  had  felt  a  repugnance. 
She  submitted  herself  to  all,  and  begged  of  all  to  humble  and  mortify  her, 
in  order,  she  said,  that  her  pride  might  not  be  lifted  up.  In  a  particular 
manner,  in  order  to  derive  from  it  the  most  legitimate  and  prompt  effect, 
she  requested  it  of  the  superioress,  who,  to  please  her  in  so  holy  a  desire, 
and  that  her  soul  might  be  enriched  more  and  more  with  celestial 
riches,  now  ordered  her  to  ask  pardon  of  the  nuns,  sometimes  separately, 
sometimes  all  together  in  the  refectory ;  now-  she  ordered  her  to  dis 
cipline  herself  or  be  disciplined  by  others  ;  now,  with  a  rope  around  her 
neck  and  her  hands  tied  behind,  she  directed  her  to  kiss  the  nuns'  feet 
under  the  tables  of  the  refectory.  At  times,  she  would  make  her  get  up 
from  her  seat  and  go  around  begging  a  little  bread  from  the  others  for 
the  love  of  God,  and,  having  got  it,  eat  it  in  the  middle  of  the  refectory. 
Knowing  that  from  being  thus  mortified  she  truly  derived  great  spiritual 
benefit,  the  superioress  would  address  her  with  words  of  reproach  and 
contempt ;  she  also  charged  other  sisters  to  do  the'  same.  When  they 
did  this,  out  of  obedience,  the  Saint  stopped  and  listened  to  them  with 
great  modesty.  Kneeling  at  their  feet,  and  calling  herself  a  sinner,  she 
asked  their  pardon,  ending  with  this  motto,  as  humble  in  her  sentiment 
as  she  was  sincere  :  "  May  God  count  it  as  merit  for  you."  Though  the 
superioress  knew  that  some  apparent  faults  during  the  time  of  such  a 
terrible  combat  were,  in  our  Saint,  rather  the  consequence  of  the  fierce 
temptations  assailing  her,  yet,  for  such  faults,  though  they  were  most 
trifling,  she  bitterly  reproached  her  before  all.  She  imposed  public 
penances  on  her,  as,  for  instance,  making  her  stretch  herself  on  the  floor 
before  the  doors  through  which  all  the  nuns  had  to  pass,  they  care 
fully  trampling  upon  her  ;  tying  her,  with  her  hands  behind,  in  some 
part  of  the  monastery,  where,  all  meeting,  .every  one  of  the  sisters 
said  something  to  mortify  her.  Moreover,  keeping  her  continually 
occupied  in  the  low  duties  of  the  kitchen,  carrying  hot  coals  or  wood, 
drawing  water,  making  fire,  fixing  and  sweeping,  or  doing  any 
other  humiliating  thing  in  the  monastery,  such  as  is  imposed  on  the  least 
of  the  servants.  In  a  word,  either  by  the  direct  will  of  God,  or  by  His 
permission,  this  rather  trying  proceeding  of  the  sisters,  and  the  still  more 
trying  one  of  the  superioress,  were  for  her  efficacious  fires  in  the  crucible 
of  spiritual  perfection  on  which  she  rested  for  these  five  years.  She, 
who  really  felt  in  her  soul  the  benefit  of  it,  so  cheerfully  accepted  all 
such  things,  that  she  seemed  to  have  no  other  comfort  in  all  trials  than 


to  be  humiliated  and  despised  ;  and  she  so  truly  delighted  in  them,  that, 
being  without  them,  she  would  seek  after  them,  and  sometimes  take 
them  of  her  own  choice.  On  the  eve  of  All  Saints,  in  the  year  1588, 
feeling  herself  greatly  tempted  to  be  disobedient,  she  blindfolded  herself, 
and  got  a  lay-sister,  who  supposed  she  had  the  permission  of  the 
superioress  to  do  it,  to  tie  her  hands  behind  her  with  a  rope,  and  then 
fasten  her  to  some  posts  in  the  neighborhood  of  the  choir.  Being  seen 
in  such  a  condition  by  the  mother  prioress,  and  asked  the  reason  why, 
she  replied  that  she  had  done  it  because  she  had  felt  some  difficulty  in 
obeying;  and,  as  her  will  was  against  binding  herself  to  the  sweet  bond 
of  obedience,  therefore  it  was  proper  that  her  body  should  be  bound  by 
these  ropes.  With  great  fervor,  she  then  begged  that  she  would  charge 
all  the  nuns,  on  entering  the  choir,  to  say  these  words  to  her,  for  her 
greater  confusion :  ' l  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  learn  to  do  as  thou  pleasest." 
The  prioress  did  this,  and  all  the  nuns  obeyed,  though  much  confused 
and  touched  by  the  heroic  virtue  their  dear  sister  practiced  in  that  act, 
at  the  end  of  which  she  thanked  them  all  and  asked  their  forgiveness. 
Thus  do  the  Saints  act.  God  would  not  leave  without  some  immediate 
reward  a  work  of  such  marked  perfection  in  His  most  faithful  champion. 
No  sooner  was  the  bandage  removed,  and  the  rope  loosened,  than — 
turning  her  eyes  for  a  moment  to  that  part  of  the  choir  which  was 
visible,  seeing  a  Crucifix,  and  thinking  of  how  much  He  suffered 
for  our  salvation — she  was  rapt  in  an  ecstasy,  during  which  she  was 
wonderfully  consoled,  instructed,  and  strengthened  by  the  divine  love. 
Another  time,  in  the  same  manner,  and  for  the  same  end — self-abase 
ment — she  got  some  one  to  fasten  her  to  the  grates  of  the  choir,  and 
obtained  permission  from  the  superioress  that  all  the  sisters  should  say 
to  her  :  "  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  this  has  befallen  thee  on  account  of  thy 
faults,  and  because  thou  wantest  to  act  too  much  according  to  thy  will." 
Again,  on  another  day,  while  she  was  contemplating — ecstatically — the  ex 
cessive  pains  of  the  Divine  Saviour,  and  becoming  inflamed  with  the  desire 
of  imitating  Him,  she  had  an  inspiration  that  it  would  be  pleasing 
to  Him  if  she  were  voluntarily  to  lie  stretched  across  the  door  of  the 
choir  by  which  the  nuns,  who  were  inside,  would  necessarily  have  to 
come  out.  She  did  this  with  all  solicitude  and  fidelity ;  and  the  nuns, 
in  customary  obedience  imposed  by  the  superioress,  became  to  her  a 
repeated  instrument  of  mortification.  Thus,  then,  would  she  be  humbled 
and  despised,  who,  among  them  all,  was  a  mirror  of  obedience;  and  thus 
the  temptations,  far  from  being  to  her  a  cause  of  loss,  increased  her 
merit  and  strengthened  her  in  virtue. 



That  instinct  of  nature  which  leads  us  to  wish  for  what  we  have  not 
yet  tasted,  now  troubled  our  Saint  in  a  persistent  manner ;  and  he  who 
tempted  Christ  in  the  desert  presented  ta  her  imagination  whatever  was 
most  pleasing  to  the  palate  to  induce  her  to  wish  for  new  and  delicate 

In  the  same  year  in  which  she  makes  her  vow  of  virginity,  she 
receives  a  precious  ring  from  her  Divine  Spouse  (page  22). 



viands,  but,  much  more,  to  make  her  break  the  rule  received  from  God, 
of  living  only  on  bread  and  water.     So  rigid  and  constant  a  fast  dis 
pleased  the  enemy  too  much.     If  the  body  be  well  fed,  he  well  knows  how 
to  use  it  to  the  detriment  of  the  soul.      He  occupied  himself,  therefore, 
with  great  skill  in  entering  this  door,  which,  being  the  least  suspected 
of  possible  danger,  made  the  access  easier.     Very  often  during  the  day, 
when  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,   on  account  of  her  excessive  abstinence, 
though  approved  of  by  God,  felt  a  natural  need  of  better  nourishment, 
the  enemy  would  inflame  her  with  so  violent  a  desire  for  some  food,  that 
sometimes  she  would  show  all  those  restless  motions  of  the  tongue  and 
mouth  that  are  wont  to  seize  an  extremely  hungry  and  impatient  person. 
Sumptuous  tables  and  exquisite  viands  would  then  present  themselves 
to  her  imagination,  and  particularly  in  passing  the  cupboards  in  which 
the  supplies  for  the  community  were  kept  under  key,  she  was  so  vividly 
affected  that  to  her  it  seemed  as  though  everything  were  exposed,  and 
she  even  felt  some  sensations  gratifying  to  her  taste.     With  such  sights 
and  imaginary  tastings  she  continued  to  be  molested,  even  in  the  act  of 
prayer,  and  sometimes  in  the  very  act  of  receiving  Holy  Communion  ; 
so  that  it  was  most  painful  for  her,  in  so  far  as  it  was  not  only  contrary  to 
the  virtue  of  abstinence,  so  much  practiced  by  her,  but  also  to  her  natural 
inclination,  by  which,  to  say  the  least,  she  always  abhorred  gluttony. 
She  said  once  to  a  sister,  that  God  would  not  let  her  be  troubled  by  the 
devil  in  anything  that  would  molest  her  so  much  as  this  ;  because  glut 
tony  seemed  to  her  so  unbecoming  and  ugly  a  vice,  that  she  felt  that  no 
other  temptation  would  humble  and  degrade  her  so  much  as  this  one. 
But  the  enemy,  with  all  his  violence,  could  not  succeed  in  making  her 
appetite  for  eating  and  drinking  prevail  and  overcome  our  abstinent  and 
mortified  Magdalen.    Even  in  regard  to  natural  needs,  she  knew  so  exactly 
how  to  keep  herself  within  the  rule  God  had  given  her,  that  the  devil  came 
out  of  the  combat  confused  and  ashamed,  and  she  with  a  new  source  of 
merit.     The  malign  suggestion  thus  progressing  by  the  way  of  the  senses, 
he,  who  was  not  allowed  to  tempt  Christ,  because  He  was  God,  against  so 
delicate  and  noble  a  virtue,  did  not  let  this  sacred  virgin  go  without 
making  her  pay  the  tribute  almost  common  to  human  flesh.     Though 
God  had  privileged  her  with  so  many  favors,  He  would  not  have  her 
altogether  exempt  from  the  struggle  in  which  the  children  of  men  have 
to  engage,  for  this  angelic  virtue  of  chastity.     This  is  the  most  familiar, 
powerful,  and  efficacious  arm  the  enemy  finds  in  us  against  ourselves. 
This  is  the  bait,  by  the  seducing  force  of  which,  unfortunately,  many 
persons  illustrious  for  talent,  learning,  courage,  and  also  for  virtue,  have 
succumbed.     This  is  the  passion  which,  exciting  the  lower  part  of  our 
nature  so  unbecomingly,  causes  such  a  disorder  and  darkening  of  the 
powers,  such  enervation  of  the  natural  virtue,  that  it  almost  leads  man 
to  the  brute  state  ;  and,  therefore,  this  is  the  road  by  which  the  greatest 
number   of    souls    are   irreparably   lost.     The   impure   enter    not    the 
Kingdom  of  Heaven,  and  to  the  nuptial  chamber  of  the  Lamb  of  God 
only  the  virgins  have  access,  and  they  accompany  Him  whithersoever  He 
goeth,  singing  with  Him  that  celestial  epithalamium  which  they  alone 
have   learned.     These   virgins   are   particularly   the   chosen  ^  ones    the 
flower  of  the  Church  of  Jesus  Christ,  by  whom  He  glorifies  Himself,  and 

72  THE   LIKE   AND   WORKS   OF 

who  will  ever  be  found  in  this,  His  earthly  paradise,  and  will  afterwards 
adorn  the  heavenly  one. 

Sister  Mary  Magdalen  was  certainly  a  precious  plant  of  this  paradise, 
and  the  Divine  Bridegroom  gave  evident  signs  of  the  delight  He  took  in 
her  virginity.  Now,  in  order  that  her  victories  might  be  complete,  and  the 
triumph  over  this  strong  antagonist  would  be  another  gem  in  her  crown, 
God  permitted  that  for  two  years,  that  is,  from  1585  to  1587,  she  would 
suffer  in  her  body  spurs  of  impure  sensuality,  and  in  her  mind,  impure 
fancies.  But  being  generally  accustomed  to  opposing  and  denying  in 
herself  even  every  desire  and  the  least  satisfaction  of  the  sense ;  bound  by 
a  particular  vow  to  this  celestial  virtue,  even  from  the  age  of  ten  years ; 
having  guarded  this  virtue  both  in  her  mind  and  in  her  body  with  a 
perfection  more  angelic  than  human,  she  knew  so  well  how  to  shield 
herself  from  the  spurs,  though  most  vehement,  of  concupiscence  ;  that 
not  only  her  pure  soul  was  not  stained  by  it  in  the  least,  but  she 
did  not  even  apprehend  what  the  devil  wanted  with  such  temptations. 
In  the  midst  of  them  and  during  all  her  lifetime  she  always  maintained 
herself  in  such  simplicity  and  innocence,  that  when  advanced  in  years, 
nay,  being  near  to  death,  she  said,  as  a  solemn  proof  of  the  all-powerful 
virtue  of  the  grace  of  Jesus  Christ,  which  alone  supports  and  strengthens 
corruptible  human  nature,  that  she  ignored  everything  that  sullied 
chastity.  This  was  said  in  answering  a  novice  who  spoke  to  her  in  con 
fidence,  fearing  that  she  had  contracted  some  stain.  From  this  we  infer 
as  certain,  either  that  God  by  a  singular  favor  would  not  permit  that 
so  pure  a  soul,  accustomed  to  raise  itself  and  dwell  among  elevated 
and  divine  things,  should  be  oppressed  by  such  vile  objects  ;  or  that  she, 
by  the  divine  grace,  was  so  careful  and  prompt  in  rejecting  the  imagina 
tions,  and  did  so  much  violence  to  her  mind  in  quenching  the  impure 
flames  of  sensuality,  as  not  to  permit  herself  to  make  the  shortest  reflec 
tion  on  them,  or  give  them  the  simplest  thought.  Though  she  appre 
hended  them  as  an  evil  thing,  yet  she  never  came  to  understand  their 
object,  or  their  intrinsic  malice — a  rare  privilege  that  God  grants  only  to 
those  souls  that  are  destined  to  enjoy  the  rest  of  contemplation  on  the 
very  breast  of  the  Divine  Love,  as  was  the  case  of  John  alone  among 
the  Apostles.  But  this  bride  of  Christ,  extremely  jealous  of  the  integrity 
of  her  purity,  was  not  satisfied  with  the  opposition  she  offered  to  these 
temptations  by  her  intellect  and  will ;  and,  feeling  that  a  vice  of  sense 
and  flesh  proceeded  from  them,  she  began  to  chastise  her  own  flesh  with 
renewed  zeal  and  excessive  rigor.  Besides  taking  but  sparingly  of  bread 
and  water;  besides  sleeping  on  the  bare  straw-bed,  and  this  only  for  a 
short  time ;  besides  doing  the  daily  work  of  the  servants  of  the  monas 
tery,  in  which  she  engaged  day  and  night,  very  often  she  would  scourge 
herself  piteously  with  iron  instruments,  gird  herself  with  a  very  sharp 
cilicium,  and  treat  her  body  in  the  worst  and  most  excruciating  manner. 
She  even  made  herself  a  girdle  of  nails  set  in  canvas,  the  points  of  which, 
projecting,  horribly  pierced  her  bare  body,  on  which  she  wore  that 
instrument  of  penance  invented  by  her  taste  for  suffering.  All  this  was 
a  great,  but  not  altogether  unusual,  torment  for  her  body.  A  wonder 
fully  extraordinary  one  was  that  which  she  devised  and  executed  on  the 
eighth  day  of  September,  1587.  Feeling  tempted  in  the  flesh  by  a  strong 


fire  of  impure  sensuality,  and  as  it  seemed  to  her  that  she  did  not  wholly 
quench  it  with  all  her  inward  efforts,  she  entered  the  room  where  the 
wood  was  kept,  picked  out  the  thorns  and  sticks  she  found  there, 
and  making  a  bundle  of  them,  carried  it  to  a  more  remote  room. 
Shutting  the  door,  she  undressed,  and  like  the  glorious  St.  Benedict, 
placing  it  on  the  floor,  she  laid  on  it,  and  with  great  courage  rolled  her 
body  over  it,  so  that  she  was  all  scratched  and  wounded  to  such  an 
extent  that  not  only  the  thorns  but  also  the  floor  was  red  with  her 
blood,  as  the  nuns  witnessed,  who  found  her  there  dressing  herself. 
Thus  those  thorns,  blossoming  through  her  pure  blood,  became  a  crown 
to  her  virginity  and  infrangible  arrows  that  subdued  the  enemy  of  purity 
and  made  him  blush  for  shame  on  account  of  the  intrepidity  and 
heroism  with  which  he  was  vanquished.  When  I  think  of  the  ex 
ample  she  has  left  us,  I  cannot  understand  why  we  feel  such  little  shame 
as  we  look  at  our  mode  of  life,  so  much  opposed  to  this  virtue.  Most 
Christians,  not  to  speak  of  unbelievers  and  bantering  philosophers,  who  yet 
wish  to  be  saved,  pretend  to  use  such  different  means  in  defense  of  this 
virtUe — so  delicate  as  to  be  likened  unto  a  looking-glass,  which  is  tar 
nished  by  the  lightest  breath.  I  do  not  know  how  they  regard  this  virtue, 
who,  professing  to  follow  it  to  the  most  severe  perfection,  yet  live  among 
the  comforts  of  gluttony,  of  sleep,  and  of  soft  feathers  ;  and  place  them 
selves  among  so  many  attractions,  of  movements,  of  forms,  of  graces,  of 
words  which  are  most  powerful  incentives  to  lust.  Quite  opposite  was 
the  view  that  the  Saints  took  of  it  ;  and  of  truth,  we  must  all  be  out  of 
the  right  path,  if  we  pretend  to  say  that  they  deluded  themselves  in 
their  excessive  zeal,  or  that  God,  contradicting  Himself,  wishes  to 
save  anyone  who  throws  himself  among  the  impure  flames  of  sin  and 
lives  in  the  midst  of  them.  Different  by  far,  from  the  life  led  to-day  by 
their  respective  followers,  were  the  lives  of  the  Apostles,  their  'disciples, 
the  primitive  Christians,  the  inhabitants  of  the  desert,  the  founders  of 
the  Religious  Orders,  and  their  first  followers ;  of  so  many  martyrs, 
confessors,  and  sacred  virgins  of  centuries  gone  by. 



Before  proceeding  to  describe  the  personal  and  visible  assaults 
St.  Mary  Magdalen  had  to  endure  from  the  devil,  it  behooves  me  to 
declare  what  the  profession  of  faith  of  every  Christian  must  be  in  regard 
to  such  things.  Let  not  the  pious  reader  regret  this  deviation  from  our 
history,  little  opportune  though  it  maybe  for  him,  as  it  is  very  important 
that  we  blunt  the  cynical  sneer  by  which  most  people  m  our  days 
answer  the  narration  of  diabolical  influences,  when  they  do  not  go  so  far 
as  to  openly  deny  them.  It  will  be  better  for  this  book  to  be  at  times 
not  altogether  meant  for  the  man  more  learned  than  devout,  rather  than  to 
come  to  be  considered  as  nothing  more  than  a  work  worthy  only  o 
going  through  the  hands  of  nuns  and  devotees,  and  no  farther.  Now 
Mos?s  the  oldest  of  historians,  the  sublimest  of  philosophers,  the  wisesi 

74  THE    LIFK   AND   WORKS   OF 

of  legislators,  in  presenting  to  us  the  grand  spectacle  in  which  God  by 
His  word  created  heaven  and  earth,  and  made  man  to  His  own  image 
(and  in  man  all  mankind  is  included),  paints  for  us  the  original  state  of 
innocence  and  happiness,  and  then  the  malice  of  the  spirit  tempter,  and 
his  appearance  under  the  form  of  a  serpent,  and  the  fall  of  Adam  and 
Bve,  most  fatal  to  their  posterity.  From  Adam  to  Moses  it  was  believed, 
at  least  by  Abraham's  descendants,  that  God  having  from  the  beginning— 
viz.,  before  He  made  man — created  His  angels  pure  spirits,  and  free  from 
all  matter,  and  having  placed  them  in  a  condition  in  which  they  were 
free  to  secure  their  eternal  happiness  by  voluntarily  submitting  to  their 
Creator,  some  of  them  permitted  themselves  to  be  seduced  by  their  self- 
love,  so  that  from  luminous  spirits  they  were  changed  into  spirits  of  dark 
ness.  Such  belief  was  more  clearly  expounded  from  the  epoch  of  Moses 
to  that  of  Jesus  Christ.  In  the  Paralipomenons,  in  the  Psalms,  in  Isaias, 
in  Zacharias,  and  more  distinctly  in  Job,  we  read  of  the  apparitions  and 
the  power  of  Satan,  prince  of  demons,  to  harm  us  mortals.  Thus  in 
the  same  book,  and  again  in  Daniel  and  in  the  book  of  Wisdom,  open 
and  clear  mention  is  made  of  a  place  of  eternal  torment  destined  for 
rebellious  angels  and  wicked  men.  Though  at  times  idolatry  deluged  the 
earth,  and  ignorance  and  blindness  enveloped  men  in  numberless  errors, 
still  the  idea  that  between  God  and  man  there  were  intermediate  spirits, 
good  and  evil,  was  not  obliterated  by  the  Pagans,  as  we  are  assured  by 
the  authority  of  Plato,  of  Xenophon,  of  Apuleius,  of  Ptolemy,  and  other 
Pagan  writers.  The  existence  of  a  future  life  was  also  universally 
felt,  though  man  was  forgetting  himself  in  a  thousand  vagaries  by  im 
agining  it  to  be  such  as  to  suit  his  senses.  The  dreams  of  the  metempsy- 
chosists,  the  court  of  justice  of  Minosses  and  Radamantes,  the  occupation 
of  Charon,  the  Elysium  and  the  Tartarus  of  mythology,  are  so  many 
evident  witnesses  of  the  belief  of  all  nations  in  the  existence  of  beings 
superior  to  us  by  nature,  and  of  a  justice  without  appeal  awaiting  us  at 
the  end  of  this  life.  But  whatever  preceded  the  coming  of  Jesus  Christ 
was  but  the  effort  of  that  insuperable  tendency  impressed  by  the  Creator 
on  the  human  soul,  which  could  not  and  should  not  have  its  completion 
until  the  appearance  of  the  splendor  of  divine  revelation.  No  sooner 
did  Jesus  Christ  appear  on  earth  in  His  mortal  flesh  than  those  sparks 
of  eternal  truth,  which  had  predisposed  the  human  soul  to  it,  became 
shining  torches,  at  the  light  of  which  the  entire  world  bowed  its  head. 
The  doctrine  of  Jesus  Christ,  announced  by  example  before  it  was  by 
word,  and  afterwards  confirmed  by  miracles,  was  destined  to  convert  the 
universe.  The  Apostles  preached  it  everywhere,  and  sealed  it  with  their 
blood.  During  the  persecutions  by  the  emperors,  whose  pride  was 
wounded  to  the  quick  by  the  principles  of  Christian  equality,  the  fol 
lowers  of  Christ  died  for  the  faith,  and,  by  their  example,  hundreds  and 
thousands  of  idolaters  were  awakened  to  profess  the  doctrines  received 
from  the  Apostles.  The  more  tyrants  invented  tortures,  the  more  was 
the  courage  of  the  martyrs  increased  against  the  fury  of  their  perse 

The  Church,  already  formed  with  St.  Peter  as  the  legitimate  suc 
cessor  of  the  Divine  Master,  passed  triumphantly  through  the  space 
of  centuries.  For  eighteen  centuries,  from  age  to  age,  from  people 


to  people,  she  brought  everywhere  the  name  and  the  glory  of  her 
Founder.  And  we  have  her  to-day  as  Jesus  Christ  established  her.  The 
sacred  deposit  of  the  Gospel,  during  the  succession  of  two  hundred  and 
fifty-nine  Pontiffs,  through  the  most  extraordinary  vicissitudes,  was  not 
altered  one  syllable.  Anyone  can  convince  himself  of  it  by  a  comparison 
with  the  oldest  code.  The  Gospel,  then,  so  much  extolled  to-day  even 
by  laymen  and  politicians,  assuring  us  of  the  existence,  sometimes  even 
visible,  of  the  good  angels,  clearly  describes  in  the  Apocalypse  the  fight 
which  took  place  between  the  Archangel  Michael  and  Lucifer,  and  the 
victory  of  the  one  over  the  other.  It  also  describes  hell,  the  place  of 
all  torments,  into  which  the  angels  who  rebelled  have  been  thrown, 
and  to  which  all  who  die  in  mortal  sin  shall  be  condemned.  Giving  to 
Lucifer  the  name  Dragon,  it  will  lead  us  to  understand  that  his  celestial 
knowledge  and  that  of  his  followers  was  changed  into  ambitious  cun 
ning  ;  that  a  malign  envy  took  in  them  the  place  of  charity,  and  their 
natural,  greatness  was  turned  into  pride.  Their  happiness  then  became 
the  sad  satisfaction  of  securing  companions  for  the  abyss  of  miseries 
to  which  they  had  been  sentenced,  and  their  occupation  the  vile  employ 
ment  of  seducing  the  universe.  St.  Peter  represents  the  devil  to  us 
as  a  roaring  lion  going  around  to  devour  souls.  St.  Paul  exhorts 
us  with  the  most  ardent  zeal  to  stand  prepared  against  the  snares  of 
Satan,  the  prince  of  this  world — that  is,  of  all  the  wicked.  All  the  four 
Evangelists  unanimously  relate  many  facts  in  which  the  devils  visibly 
used  their  malice  to  the  damage  of  humanity.  Besides  the  audacity  of 
Satan  in  presenting  himself  to  Christ  in  the  desert,  and  taking  Him  by 
the  hand  to  tempt  Him  repeatedly,  they  relate  how  the  same  Divine 
Redeemer,  in  the  presence  of  the  multitude,  delivered,  not  by  any 
chemical  or  magical  preparation,  but  by  a  simple  word,  by  His  command, 
various  persons  possessed  and  ill-treated  by  the  devil.  In  some  persons, 
He  added  to  this  the  miracle  of  an  instantaneous  cure  from  an  antecedent 
illness  or  defect  of  nature,  as  in  the  lunatic,  in  the  deaf  and  dumb,  and 
in  the  blind  and  dumb.  Whilst  these  miracles  could  not  be  wrought  to 
confirm  an  illusion,  they  stand  as  a  most  evident  proof  of  the  existence  and 
the  power  of  the  devils.  Besides,  these  miracles  were  of  such  a  Divine 
character,  that  out  of  so  many  eyes  riveted  upon  Christ,  and  so  many  ears 
attentive  to  His  words,  and  so  many  enemies  striving  to  charge  Him 
with  being  an  impostor,  there  was  not  one  who  succeeded  in  raising  a 
doubt  as  to  their  reality.  The  Gospel  goes  on  to  relate  how  the  Apostles 
and  the  disciples,  in  the  name  and  by  the  virtue  of  their  Divine  Master, 
delivered  many  others  possessed  of  the  devil,  sometimes  accompany 
ing  this  with  miracles,  for  another  end.  In  the  annals  of  the  Church  we 
find  no  person  of  any  virtue  who  had  not  to  endure  terrible  combats 
with  the  devil ;  and  we  read  of  many  instances  in  which  the  devil, 
assuming  a  visible  form,  attacked  and  .tormented  persons  of  a  holy  life, 
but  who,  triumphing  through  the  Divine  assistance,  exercised  also  on 
behalf  of  others  the  power  of  delivering  those  who  are  possessed,  which 
power  Christ  left  to  His  bride,  the  Church.  From  the  beginning  of  the 
Christian  era  down  to  the  last  century,  many  have  been  the  heretics, 
who,  with  their  false  doctrines,  tried  to  disturb  Catholicity ;  many  have 
been  the  dogmatical  errors  born  of  man's  passions.  But,  among  so 

76  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OK 

many  enemies  and  so  many  heresies,  the  existence  and  the  nature  of 
pure  spirits,  the  distinguishing  of  them  into  good  and  wicked,  the 
condemnation  of  these  latter  ones  to  eternal  torment ;  their  sway  over 
us, — all  these  ideas  which  we  derive  from  tradition,  inspiration,  reve 
lation,  and  experience  'have  been  almost  universally  respected.  This 
deceitful  triumph  was  reserved  to  the  blind  and  proud  delirium  of  the 
revolutionists  of  the  last  decade  of  the  past  century,  who,  combining  in 
themselves  all  errors,  tried  to  uproot  and  annihilate  all  truths,  establish 
ing  the  worship  of  the  goddess  Reason.  What  neither  Celsus,  nor 
Porphyrius,  nor  Julian  the  Apostate  dared  to  impugn,  they  all  denied. 
What  always  existed,  and,  consequently,  what  alone  had  the  character  of 
truth,  they  pretended  utterly  to  destroy.  Everything  was  to  give  way 
to  Reason.  And  this  worship,  having  degenerated  into  the  most  mon 
strous  tyranny,  left  such  horrible  traces  of  itself  that  everybody  abhorred 
following  it.  Terrorism  having  been  assuaged,  and  more  moderate, 
though  not  less  pernicious,  maxims  adopted,  Rationalism,  that,  is,  the 
system  of  believing  only  what  one  understands,  sprang  up.  What  a  dis 
cordance  of  opinions  this  has  necessarily  caused,  is  evident  and  palpable 
from  the  enormous  gradation  of  human  intelligence.  We  may  compare 
the  light  by  which  Catholicism  triumphantly  shines  to  the  mid-day  sun. 
Some  persons  pretend  to  look  at  it  as  they  would  at  a  lantern,  through  the 
corporal  eye.  Consequently,  their  sight  is  dazzled,  and  error  takes  pos 
session  of  them.  It  is  a  sad  misfortune  that  on  this  the  indifference  and 
unbelief  of  to-day  are  based.  Everybody  wants  to  see,  everybody  wants  to 
reason,  and  with  no  other  guide  than  that  of  caprice,  interest,  or  ambition. 
The  sun  of  the  Church  of  Christ,  that  measures  its  existence  from  the 
birth  of  the  world,  is  considered  to-day  as  being  unable  to  guide  the  steps 
of  man.  And  with  a  calm  mind,  even  by  persons  of  otherwise  moderate 
opinions,  the  existence  of  spirits,  the  power  of  the  devils,  hell  itself, 
and,  consequently,  the  justice  of  God,  and  whatever  belongs  to  this  most 
essential  attribute,  are  denied.  The  excess  of  ignorance  and  contradic 
tion  lies  in  the  audacity  of  those  who  boast  of  being  followers  of  the 
Gospel,  whilst  they  believe  of  it  only  what  they  suppose  will  favor  their 
mode  of  thinking  and  living.  To  see  Jesus  Christ  communing  with  the 
plebeians,  exhorting  the  masses,  sitting  at  the  table  with  the  publicans, 
picking  out,  as  His  first  disciples,  some  fishermen — that  is,  free  men  in 
the  midst  of  the  ocean,  where  no  other  law  is  known  but  that  of  heaven; 
to  see,  in  a  word,  Jesus  Christ  always  pleasant,  always  meek  with  the 
poor  and  afflicted,  and,  on  the  contrary,  always  severe  with  the  rich,  the 
ambitious,  the  hypocrite, — all  this  pleases  the  world  of  to-day,  that 
would  propose  the  Divine  Redeemer  as  a  model  of  democracy.  This  I 
hold  to  be  the  only  reason  why  such  people  believe  in  the  sacred  Gospel. 
Hence,  they  reject  severity  of  morals  and  purity  of  heart,  because 
these  cost  something  to  the  appetites  of  carnal  men.  They  reject  what 
the  Divine  Wisdom  placed  beyond  the  limits  of  human  comprehension, 
because  earthly  pride  is  unwilling  to  give  way  to  mystery.  They  reject 
the  diabolical  assaults  and  possessions,  and  the  miracles,  because  to-day 
they  do  not  see  the  former,  and  the  latter  are  not  wrought  as  those  same 
unbelievers  would  like  to  see  them.  They  are  similar  in  this  to  the 
Pharisees  of  old,  who  asked  Christ  to  confirm  His  works  by  showing 


them  some  celestial  prodigy.  Finally,  they  reject  the  authority  of  the 
Church,  because  her  ministers,  they  ^ay,  are  men  of  vices  and  crimes. 
Which,  alas  !  being  sometimes  true,  instead  of  hurting,  offers  one  of  the 
most  convincing  proofs  of  the  infallible  and  perpetual  governmtnt  of 
God  over  the  Catholic  Church.  A  moment's  reflection  will  show  how 
repugnant  to  good  sense  is  this  injustice  of  refusing  to  admit  alike  all 
the  facts  which  proceed  from  the  same  principle  of  authority.  As  the 
faith  of  Christ  tolerates  no  compromise,  and  as  there  is  no  article  in  the 
Gospel  which  claims  our  submission  less  than  another,  it  follows  that, 
if  we  refuse  belief  in  the  existence,  the  power,  and  even  the  visible  work 
of  the  infernal  spirits  against  man,  in  so  far  as  God  permits,  we  will  be 
heretics  and  infidels,  like  those  who  deny  all.  If  our  belief  in  what 
remains  proceeds  not  from  God,  it  must  simply  be  an  illusion  that  will 
inevitably  make  us  the  victims  of  eternal  misfortune.  In  so  far  as  our 
dignity  inspires  us  with  hopes  above  those  of  the  brutes,  let  us,  at  least, 
keep  our  faith  intact,  not  going  forward  into  it  with  that  fatal  why  which 
caused  the  apostasy  and  condemnation  of  so  many  illustrious  men.  L,et 
us  also  appreciate  what  is  suggested  to  us  by  the  divine  poet : — 

"  Mortals,  remain  contented  at  the  Quia; 
For,  if  he  had  been  able  to  see  all, 
No  need  there  were  for  Mary  to  give  birth." 

—DANTE,  Purg.,  C.  III. 

From  the  fierce  persecutions  with  which  hell  assaulted  St.  Mary 
Magdalen  De-Pazzi  let  us  learn  how  precious  virtue  is,  and  how  im 
portant  the  salvation  of  a  soul  washed  in  the  blood  of  Jesus  Christ. 

To  our  Saint  it  was  also  reserved  to  suffer  torments  in  her  body  at 
the  hands  of  the  devil,  in  order  that,  like  wheat  chosen  for  paradise,  she 
should  pass  through  the  hardships  of  all  kinds  of  suffering,  and,  like  gold 
well  refined  in  the  crucible  of  torments,  she  should  become  more  puri 
fied  for  the  glory  of  heaven,  there  to  shine  with  most  brilliant  splendor. 
God  gave  liberty  to  the  devils  to  torment  her  in  all  her  senses;  and  they 
did  so  with  so  much  vehemence  and  fury,  that  particularly  through  the 
eyesight,  the  hearing,  and  the  sense  of  feeling,  they  persecuted  her  greatly 
above  the  ordinary  strength  of  human  nature.  They  appeared  to  her  in 
horrible  forms — now  of  lions  or  rabid  dogs,  now  of  serpents  or  savage 
animals,  and  always  in  the  act  of  assailing  and  devouring  her.  These 
a-saults  would  leave  her  livid  and  chilled  as  if  in  agony.  "  O  Sister," 
she  said  once  to  a  confidant  of  hers,  "just  imagine  how  much  this  hor 
rible  sight  of  the  devils  must  grieve  my  soul!"  Another  time,  while 
she  perspired  excessively  on  account  of  the  agitation  caused  her  by  the 
devil  appearing  to  her  in  a  monstrous  shape,  she  called  to  her  help  St. 
Michael  the  Archangel,  and  then,  turning  to  a  Crucifix,  she  exclaimed: 
"  O  Word,  O  Word !  hi  te,  Domine,  speravi,  non  confundar  in  czternum!  '- 
"In  Thee,  O  Lord,  I  trusted,  I  shall  not  be  confounded  forever"  (Ps. 
Ixx,  i).  Then  turning  to  the  enemy:  "What  dost  thou  want  of  me, 
horrible  beast  ?  O  bone  Jesu!  by  the  sight  of  the  offenses  offered  to  Thy 
Divine  Majesty,  and  by  this  of  my  adversaries,  I  seem  to  taste  hell.  But 
if  you  devils  swallow  me,  you  will  be  compelled  to  throw  me 
up  »  Aeain,  finding  herself  alone  in  a  room,  she  was  heard  to  combat 
with  the  devil,  saving  to  him  :  "  Depart  from  me,  vile  beast;  what  dosi 

78  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

thou  want  of  me?"  And,  as  if  he  attempted  to  insult  her,  she  would 
again  repeat:  "Depart  and  do  not  approach  me;  I  tell  thee  to  take 
thyself  away  in  the  name  of  Jesus,  and  if  I  can  order  thee  to  do  it,  I 
order  it."  And  then  she  prayed  to  God  to  lend  her  assistance.  She  was 
over  two  hours  in  this  contest.  Being  asked  by  the  superioress  about 
what  had  happened,  she  told  how  the  devil,  in  the  form  of  a  frightful 
beast,  threatened  to  devour  her.  She  was  a  martyr  because  of  the 
torment  with  which  her  hearing  was  afflicted,  as  we  have  already  said  in  the 
Third  Temptation,  for  howls,  roars,  and  blasphemies  continuallyresounded 
in  her  ears,  with  such  force  and  persistence  that  often  it  was  found 
necessary  to  shake  her  bodily,  that  she  might  hear  the  human  voice. 
The  psalmody  of  the  choir  was  heard  by  her  only  as  a  confused  murmur. 
But  the  sense  of  feeling  was  the  one  which  was  to  bring  her  the  first 
palm  of  martyrdom.  The  devils  threw  to  the  ground  that  noble  and 
tender  body,  weakened  by  her  penances,  in  such  a  violent  manner,  that, 
to  anyone  who  saw  her,  it  was  a  wonder  that  she  remained  alive.  The 
nuns  who  witnessed  her  actions  were  amazed  at  seeing  her  thrown  to  the 
ground,  her  body  prone,  making  gesticulations  and  motions — now  with 
the  head,  now  with  the  arms,  now  with  the  feet — as  if  she  were  being 
struck,  and  then — all  sadness — become  pale  and  trembling.  After  having 
continued  for  three,  four,  or  even  five  hours  in  this  agony,  she  would 
appear  with  wounds  and  bruises,  or,  at  least,  extraordinarily  weak  in 
body.  She  herself  would  then  relate,  in  obedience  to  the  interrogation 
of  the  superioress,  how  the  devils,  having  thrown  her  to  the  ground, 
struck  and  scourged  her  with  hard  sticks,  or,  turning  themselves  into 
vipers  and  serpents,  entwined  themselves  around  her,  and  bit  her,  so 
that  she  could  not  keep  from  writhing,  as  she  felt  such  pain  as  though 
they  were  tearing  her  limbs  to  pieces.  Neither  time  nor  place  gave 
truce  to  so  painful  a  struggle.  Sometimes  in  the  choir  she  was  thrown 
to  the  ground  and  struck  during  the  recital  of  the  divine  office  and  in 
assisting  at  Holy  Mass.  One  day  in  particular,  she  was  struck  so  heavily 
in  the  face  that  it  swelled,  and  it  became  necessary  to  doctor  it  for  some 
time.  Several  times  she  was  thrown  down  the  stairs,  and  especially 
whilst  she  was  going  to  Holy  Communion,  or  to  do  some  charitable 
deed.  In  this,  though,  the  wonderful  and  miraculous  assistance  of  God 
was  made  manifest.  Being  precipitated  with  great  violence  down  a 
flight  of  twenty-six  stone  steps,  it  repeatedly  happened  that  the  nuns 
who  had  run  at  the  noise,  instead  of  finding  her  mangled  would  see  her, 
to  their  ineffable  wonder,  safe  and  sound,  arising  in  all  tranquillity  and 
continuing  her  occupation.  It  also  happened  that  the  devils  dragged 
her  through  the  choir,  the  corridors,  and  the  cells  of  the  monastery ; 
but  to  the  sisters  who  witnessed  such  struggles,  it  was  not  given  to  see 
the  hand  that  produced  them,  nor  to  afford  opportune  help  to  the 
sufferer.  One  evening,  the  Saint  was  in  the  room  of  the  prioress  when 
she  was  suddenly  thrown  to  the  ground.  Her  throat  and  face  began  to 
swell,  and  being  forced  to  cough,  as  if  she  were  being  choked,  pro 
fusely  perspiring,  she  was  heard  to  say  :  "  I  die  !  I  die  !  I  am  choked  !  " 
This  strange  occurrence,  which  was  the  work  of  diabolical  artifices  on 
this  meek  virgin,  lasted  three  hours.  After  that  time,  she  was  free 
from  pain  for  several  days.  All  these  things  happened  under  the  eyes 



of  the  nuns.  All  she  outwardly  suffered  from  terrors,  torments,  and 
contests,  she  made  sufficiently  clear  when  she  said  that,  between  the 
interior  temptations  and  the  external  combats,  she  was  so  much  occupied 
that  time  was  not  left  her  to  offer  herself  to  God.  Most  wonderful  mys 
tery  of  the  Divine  Will  in  so  innocent  a  creature! 

As  this  noble  virgin  entered  with  invincible  spirit  this  den  of 
infernal  lions,  boldly  answering  to  the  first  assault — u  Sufficit  mihi  gratia 
tua" — so  she  persevered  in  it  for  five  years,  never  yielding  to  fear  or  diffi 
dence.  She  unflinchingly  resisted,  with  vigor  and  valor,  all  the  con 
spiracies  of  hell  against  her.  The  serenity  of  her  countenance  did  not 
grow  cloudy  in  the  midst  of  so  many  sorrows  and  shades  of  evil  sug 
gestion  ;  her  heart  did  not  grow  despondent  when  seized  by  so  much 
aridity  of  spirit  and  in  the  absence  of  spiritual  consolation  ;  she  did  not 
complain  of  the  bitterness  of  the  pains  she  felt  in  her  body,  made  a 
target  for  Lucifer's  hatred.  Always  meek  and  peaceful  amidst  all  manner 
of  snares,  always  full  of  hope  in  God,  and  always  firm  and  constant, 
even  in  the  greatest  and  most  dangerous  struggles — a  lament  never 
escaped  that  angelic  mouth  ;  a  motion  was  never  noticed  which  might 
impair  the  equanimity  of  that  spirit,  always  immovable  in  its  resolution 
to  please  God  whether  in  consolation  or  in  affliction.  Though  from  the 
physical  torments  she  would  grow  pale  and  tremble  in  the  heat  of  the 
fight,  yet,  with  a  more  heavenly  than  earthly  countenance,  she  would 
utter  these  words:  "My  Jesus,  where  art  Thou?"  The  nuns  some 
times  insisted  on  affording  relief  to  her  in  the  excess  of  her  suffering,  but 
she  would  peacefully  answer  them  :  u  Do  you  not  remember  that  these 
things  must  be,  and  that  it  is  the  Divine  Will  I  should  pass  through 
these  temptations  ?  Let  the  devils  do  what  they  will,  I  know  the  Lord 
will  not  permit  them  to  do  more  than  my  spirit  can  bear."  Sometimes 
smiling  at  the  very  torments,  she  would  say  to  the  devil:  "And  after 
thou  shalt  have  tormented  me  as  thou  wishest,  what  shalt  thou  have 
obtained?  At  any  rate,  Benedicam  Dominum  in  omni  temper e,  semper 
laus  ejus  in  ore  meo  " — u  I  will  bless  the  Lord  at  all  times ;  His  praise 
shall  be  always  in  my  mouth"  (Ps.  xxxiii,  i).  One  day,  to  reproach 
them  for  their"  impotence,  after  she  had  been  thrown  twice  to  the  ground, 
she  said  to  the  devils  :  "  You  can  only  do  to  me  what  my  Spouse  per 
mits  you  to  do."  And  she  said  particularly  to  one  devil:  "I  do  not  deny 
thy  being  strong,  horrible  beast,  and  my  being,  of  myself,  weak ;  but 
the  Lord  is  near  me,  who  is  infinitely  more  powerful  than  thou."  And, 
addressing  them  all,  she  said  :  "  Do  you  not  perceive,  foolish  and  igno 
rant,  that  I  am  with  my  Jesus,  and  you  can  do  me  no  harm  ?  Do  you 
not  perceive,  also,  that  with  all  your  attacks  you  will  make  me  a  more 
glorious  victor  ?  "  Encouraged  by  celestial  protection,  she  showed  her 
self  to  them  in  the  act  of  triumphing.  When  she  saw  them  in  the  choir 
trying  to  suggest  vain  thoughts  to  the  minds  of  the  nuns,  to  distract 
them  from  the  divine  praises  ;  when  in  the  Communion  chapel,  to  prevent 
their  being  recollected  in  God  for  that  great  act,  and,  in  hearing  God  £ 
Word,  to  distract  them  with  untimely  ideas  ;  when  in  the  refectory,  t< 
stimulate  their  sense  of  gluttony  to  cause  illness,  and  to  withdraw  their  at 
tention  from  the  spiritual  reading ;  when  in  the  work-room,  or  in  oti 
places  of  ordinary  exercises,  to  make  them  slow  and  negligent ;- 

80  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

trepid,  the  cross  in  one  hand  and  the  discipline  in  the  other,  was  chasing 
them  all  around,  saying  to  the  nuns :  '  *  Don't  you  see  that  all  the  monastery 
is  infested  by  devils,  who  stay  around  us  to  tempt  us  ?"  Being  asked  why 
she  made  no  effort  in  the  direction  of  the  chapter,  to  shake  the  devils 
from  it,  she  replied  that  they  did  not  enter  that  place  because  of  the  acts 
of  humility  and  mortification  that  were  performed  in  it. 

We  being  docile,  therefore,  to  the  suggestions  and  teachings  of  the 
Catholic  doctrine  about  the  existence,  nature,  and  condition  of  the  infernal 
spirits,  the  facts  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi's  life  thus  far  narrated 
are  for  us  an  ulterior  confirmation  of  these  things,  as  may  be  seen  by  the 
most  obvious  reasoning.  In  a  soul  naturally  so  good,  so  well  cultivated  by 
education  and  virtue,  so  favored  by  divine  grace,  such  a  contradiction  of 
sentiments  could  not,  of  itself,  appear  so  suddenly.  Neither  could  that 
principle  of  sin,  which  unhappily  is  rooted  in  tmr  hearts,  pass  to  the  act 
of  molesting  us,  except  by  the  force  of  exterior  seducing  circumstances, 
or  by  one's  own  wicked  will.  This  is  afterwards  followed  by  fanaticism, 
as  a  consequence  of  it,  and,  at  the  same  time,  a  cause  of  irregular  and 
perverse  imaginations.  Outside  of  these  causes,  every  movement  arising 
in  us  which  is  opposed  to  the  eternal  law  can  be  caused  but  by  the 
external  suggestions  with  which  the  devils  go  about  seeking  our  ruin. 
Hence,  this  creature,  ever  innocent,  protected  by  the  sacred  cloister  and 
the  devout  practices,  in  common  and  in  private,  which  she  performed 
in  it,  with  the  most  firm  and  constant  disposition  to  throw  herself 
into  the  fire  rather  than  to  commit  sin,  had  an  imagination  which,  if 
capable  of  excess,  must  be  of  virtue,  and  not  of  vice.  These  wicked 
tendencies,  especially  to  blasphemy,  cannot  be  attributed  to  anything 
but  to  the  art  of  the  devil.  Nor  can  the  sad  phenomena  of  her  body  be 
explained  by  any  other  cause.  Her  physical  condition,  according  to  the 
testimony  of  the  first  doctors  then  in  Florence,  was  not  subject  to  any 
organic  affection ;  and  the  faculties  of  her  soul,  whose  witnesses  were 
her  spiritual  directors,  who  carefully  studied  everything  extraordinary 
that  happened  in  her,  were  never  diverted  from  their  freedom  of  action, 
though  their  activity  sometimes  would  not  correspond  to  her  desire. 
Finally,  in  addition,  the  fact  that  she  specifically  foretold  this  infernal  com 
bat,  determining  even  the  time,  which,  having  been  literally  verified,  seals 
the  truth  of  the  things  above  related  with  a  most  marked  divine  charac 
ter.  It  remains  now  for  our  instruction,  that  in  the  incontestable  evi 
dence  of  this  personal  struggle,  excited  by  hell  more  as  a  revenge  than  a 
simple  temptation,  and  perceiving  the  rare  sanctity  of  our  Magdalen,  we 
learn  what  power  the  devil  has  over  us,  and  what  and  how  great  is  the 
assistance  of  God  in  our  behalf,  whenever  we  do  not  render  ourselves 
unworthy  of  it.  And  if  such  excessive  and  extraordinary  aggressions 
are  not  heard  of  in  our  days,  and  we  have  no  reason  to  fear  that  we  may 
suffer  them  ourselves,  we  should  fear  none  the  less  the  ordinary  temp 
tations  tending  more  adroitly,  though  less  openly,  to  lead  us  to  per 
dition.  Especially  should  we  fear  the  living  persons  of  whom  the  devil 
commonly  makes  use  to  interfere  with  our  welfare,  to  divert  us  from  the 
right  path,  and  to  ruin  us  utterly. 




Unhappy  is  the  man  who  fastens  all  his  happiness  to  the  opinion 
or  the  plaudits  of  the  world.  He  lies  down  in  the  evening  with  but  one 
thought,  awakes  in  the  morning  with  but  one  hope,  and  passes  the  day 
in  seeing  the  dreams  of  the  night  vanish  one  by  one.  And  if  sometimes 
worldly  laurels  carry  one  triumphantly  to  the  summit  of  the  Capitol,  ordi 
narily  this  serves  but  to  hasten  the  ignominy  of  the  Tarpejan  rock.  Well 
does  the  Holy  Ghost  warn  us  that  cursed  is  the  man  who  puts  his  trust 
and  his  happiness  in  another  man.  When  we  base  our  judgment  on  the 
estimation  of  others,  in  most  cases  our  logic  gives  way  to  incoherence 
and  folly.  Our  soul,  created  to  the  image  of  God,  cannot  be  judged  but 
by  principles  proceeding  from  God  Himself ;  otherwise,  we  will  estimate 
one  another  with  the  most  monstrous  injustice  and  unreasonable 
ness.  Experience  teaches  us  this  every  day.  To-day  we  raise  to  the 
sky  what  we  shall  to-morrow  cast  into  the  abyss ;  to-day  we  erect  the 
gibbet  for  him  whom  but  yesterday  we  placed  on  the  throne.  The 
thousand  motives  which  now  incline  us  in  favor  of  a  person,  are  shortly 
afterwards  turned  into  so  many  motives  to  condemn  him,  without 
the  least  remembrance  of  his  worth.  What  more  powerful  and  efficacious 
example  of  this  can  be  found,  than  that  which  Jesus  Christ  Himself 
wished  to  leave  us  in  His  own  person  ?  He,  acclaimed  by  the  people  as 
the  new  King  of  Israel,  made  His  triumphant  entry  into  the  earthly 
Jerusalem,  where  everybody  vied  in  addressing  Him  with  words  of  joy  and 
acclamation.  His  most  innocent  life,  His  most  wonderful  doctrine,  His 
modesty, benignity,  meekness, — all  His  virtues  and  His  many  miracles  had 
finally  brought  the  people  to  acknowledge  His  mission.  But  as  those  men 
still  looked  at  Jesus  Christ  with  a  carnal  eye,  therefore,  by  the  volubility 
and  inconstancy  of  earthly  vision,  a  few  days  afterwards  the  most 
horrible,  the  most  execrable,  and  the  most  monstrous  of  crimes  was  com 
mitted  by  those  very  men  against  the  sacred  person  of  the  Divine  Re 
deemer.  They  had  forgotten  everything  that  a  few  moments  before  had 
moved  them  in  His  favor.  Even  the  Apostles,  already  well  purified  in 
the  spiritual  sight,  forgot  somewhat  the  virtue  of  their  Divine  Master, 
although  they  had  been  for  a  long  time  the  eye-witnesses  thereof. 
The  prophecies  were  thus  fulfilled,  and  the  way  of  light  and  truth 
was  thrown  wide  open  to  us.  Walking  in  it,  let  us  not  look  for  any 
reward  from  the  world  other  than  that  of  ingratitude  and  calumny. 
"Everyman,"  even  Seneca  says,  "  who  walks  in  the  right  path  must 
never  get  discouraged,  nor  stop  at  the  shocks  of  falsehood  that  will  assail 
him  without  fail."  Our  Saint,  being  so  zealous  an  imitator  of  the  suffer 
ings  of  our  Divine  Saviour,  was  to  partake  also  in  some  manner  of  the 
mortification  of  the  unjust  judgment  of  the  world.  Domestic  demons- 
demons  clothed  in  human  flesh— were  to  make  her  feel  their  wickedness. 
She  had,  inspired  by  her  Spouse  Jesus,  foretold  to  the  sisters,  as  Christ 
did  to  His  Apostles,  that  in  the  time  of  her  tribulation  they  would  turn 
against  her,  as  we  have  already  seen  in  the  beginning  of  this  chapter ;  and 
to  the  nun  who,  like  Peter,  declared  herself  the  most  firm  and  faithful,  she 

82  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS  OF 

answered  that  before  the  rest  did  so,  she  would  have  given  up  her  favor 
able  opinion  of  her.  The  sisters  saw  that  what  she  had  foretold  about 
this  tribulation  had  come  to  pass ;  they  were  cognizant  of  the  exquisite 
virtues  which  adorned  her  soul;  they  knew  that  the  spirit  of  God 
guided  her  constantly,  even  in  the  midst  of  the  fiercest  enemies.  They 
could  not,  in  the  least,  doubt  that  she  would  valiantly  resist  all  the  in 
fernal  assaults,  or  that  her  pristine  purity  would  suffer  the  least  taint. 
Notwithstanding  this,  they  all  waged  such  war  against  her,  that  no  mat 
ter  how  much  we  wish  to  ascribe  this  to  Divine  permission,  it  was  noth 
ing,  in  fact,  but  the  immediate  effect  of  human  ignorance  and  perversity. 
She  was  no  more,  for  them,  the  former  Magdalen ;  the  austerity  of  her 
past  savored  of  ostentatious  piety,  and  some  even  doubted  that  it  might 
be  but  apparent,  as  the  under-cook  one  day,  being  in  the  adjacent 
room  for  the  purpose  of  preparing  fruits  for  dinner,  saw  a  sister  who 
perfectly  resembled  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  enter  the  kitchen,  and, 
approaching  the  pot,  take  therefrom  a  piece  of  meat,  with  the  appear 
ance  of  a  desire  to  eat  it.  She  was  so  scandalized  at  it,  that,  having 
spoken  of  it  with  very  little  discretion,  she  raised  in  a  short  time  a  great 
prattle  at  the  expense  of  our  Saint,  and,  out  of  about  eighty  female  and 
claustral  tongues  composing  that  religious  family,  every  one  had  to 
utter  her  word  of  criticism  about  this  occurrence.  Likewise,  another 
time,  at  night,  a  sister  of  the  appearance  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  was 
seen  to  steal  into  a  room  and  take  something  to  eat.  But  in  the  first 
and  in  the  second  case  the  nuns  were  quieted  down,  though  not  all  of 
them  were  convinced  until  an  eye-witness  asserted  having  seen  Sister 
Mary  Magdalen  elsewhere  at  the  time  of  the  above-related  occurrences, 
viz. :  at  the  time  of  the  first  one,  in  the  chapter ;  and  at  the  time  of  the 
second  one,  in  the  oratory  of  the  novitiate.  So  that  all  those  who  had 
no  difficulty  in  lending  belief  to  such  an  assertion,  and,  on  the  other 
hand,  would  not  countenance  a  mere  calumny,  had  to  infer  that  the 
devil,  in  both  cases,  had  assumed  the  form  of  our  Saint,  and  thus  shown 
himself  in  those  actions  to  discredit  her.  The  fact  is,  that  out  of  so 
many  nuns,  only  two  remained  constant,  that  is,  receded  less  than  the 
others  from  the  favorable  opinion  they  had  of  this  holy  and  noble  virgin. 
The  ecstasies  and  the  extraordinary  favors  which  had  appeared  so  evi 
dent  in  her  that  there  was  not  the  least  reason  for  doubting  them,  were 
now  reputed  to  be  mere  frauds  and  diabolical  illusions.  Her  many  suffer 
ings  during  this  time  of  desolation  and  trial  were  now  believed  to  be  con 
sequences  of  ill-will,  or  caprice,  or,  at  least,  negligence,  because  of  which 
such  strange  things  justly  happened  to  her.  The  very  miracles,  as  we  will 
see,  wrought  through  her  at  that  time  did  not  suffice  to  make  the  sisters 
hold  the  requisite  good  opinion  of  her.  Hence,  those  among  the  sisters 
who  were  inclined  to  judge  her  with  more  benignity,  and  not  to  treat  her  as 
a  hypocrite  or  a  dreamer,  considered  her  guilty  of  sloth.  We  may  infer  from 
this  how  many  afflictions  and  what  ill-treatment  Magdalen  had  to  endure 
for  so  long  a  time,  and  in  so  numerous  a  gathering  of  religious  persons. 
When  it  is  a  question  of  hunting  up  the  peculiarity  of  anyone  living 
with  them,  who  may  be  a  standing  reproach  to  their  tepidity,  they  are 
worse  than  any  class  of  lay-persons.  Just  as  the  Pharisees  cried  out 
"Blasphemy ! "  when  Christ  forgave  sins ;  pronounced  it  abasement,  when 


He  consoled  sinners  ;  declared  it  revolting  and  notorious  impiety,  when 
He  healed  the  sick  on  the  Sabbath-day, — they  are  capable,  being  ani 
mated  by  the  same  Pharisaical  spirit,  of  clothing  with  malice  the  most 
holy  actions  of  their  neighbors.  It  is  not  improbable  that  among  so 
many  sisters  in  the  monastery  there  should  be  some  of  this  description. 

But  this  sacred  virgin,  having  triumphed  over  all  the  infernal  fury 
above  described,  triumphed  no  less  over  all  that  these,  her  domestic  devils 
in  the  flesh,  could  invent  to  her  dishonor  and  torment.  She,  like  the 
woman  eulogized  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  opposed  silence,  meekness,  and 
benignity  to  the  persecutions.  Constant  in  her  devout  proceedings,  she 
loved  and  venerated  all,  prayed  for  all,  did  good  to  all,  but  neither  wished 
nor  hoped  for  anything  from  any  living  person.  She  served  God,  like 
St.  Paul,  in  good  and  bad  renown  alike  ;  and,  leaving  us  the  example  of 
how  a  good  name  is  to  be  preserved,  she  secured  a  true  victory  by  faith, 
which  places  the  whole  world  under  our  feet,  as  St.  John  teaches 
us:  "ffezc  est  victoria  qu<z  vincit  mundum,  fides  nostra  " — "  And  this  is 
the  victory  which  overcometh  the  world;  our  faith "  (i  John  v,  4). 
There  is  no  kind  of  temptation  over  which  faith  cannot  triumph.  Not 
by  a  cynical  sentiment,  which  faces  public  opinion  with  contempt  and 
derision,  but,  convinced  that  the  scourge  comes  to  us  from  the  loving 
hand  of  God,  who  strikes  us,  as  His  children,  for  our  best  welfare,  and 
makes  us  happy  by  placing  us  under  an  unjust  persecution,  we 
triumphantly  ride  over  all  our  enemies.  Justly  is  the  Christian's  vic 
tory  attributed  to  faith ;  because  this  shows  us  the  joys  we  must  hope 
for,  excites  us  to  the  acquisition  of  them,  and  teaches  us  whence  we 
must  expect  the  help  necessary  to  win  and  what  motives  we  have  for 
trusting  in  such  help,  because  manifestly  loyal  is  He  who  fights  for  us 
and  with  us.  To  faith,  as  to  a  root,  hope  and  charity  must  be  united, 
which  three  virtues  assure  us,  according  to  St.  Paul,  that  neither  life  nor 
death,  neither  men  nor  angels  will  separate  us  from  the  charity  of  Christ. 
By  the  Cross,  invoked  by  us  with  a  lively  faith,  all  the  infernal  spirits 
are  dispersed  or  rendered  impotent  to  hurt  our  soul.  By  practicing  the 
principle  which  faith  proposes  to  us,  that  "  he  who  is  smitten  on  one 
cheek  should  turn  the  other  to  the  smiter,"  we  radically  remove 
from  our  heart  everything  that  may  be  opposed  to  our  own  good  and 
that  of  society,  and  thus  implant  in  the  soul  of  the  offender  the  most 
noble  thoughts;  unlike  that  inhuman  principle  of  the  world,  that  "he 
who  receives  a  blow  on  the  face,  unless  he  takes  revenge  for  it,  is  dis 
honored."  By  this  principle  the  greatest  infamy  and  degradation  is 
brought  on  the  Christian  and  the  man,  as  on  their  skill,  or  rather  the 
hazard  of  the  point  of  a  sword,  they  place  the  honor,  the  blood,  and  the 
life  of  man.  If  then,  as  believers  in  God,  we  wish  not  to  be  indifferent 
to  our  eternal  destiny,  let  us  reflect  well  on  the  fact  that  nobody  shall  be 
crowned  unless  he  shall  have  legitimately  fought  in  the  necessary  fight 
of  this  life,  that  is,  with  the  arms  of  faith,  left  us  by  Jesus  Christ,  and 
employed  by  all  the  Saints. 

St  Paul,  chosen  by  God  as  the  first  proclaimer  of  this  truth,  had  ex 
perienced  in  himself  more  than  others  the  dangers  which,  at  every  step, 
threaten  us  with  ruin— the  most  powerful  enemies  who  incessantly  work 
our  perdition  ;  and  he,  ever  moved  by  God  to  guide  us  in  the  path  of 



our  welfare,  tells  us  distinctly:  " Non  coronabitur,  nisi  qui  legitimc 
certaverit" — "  For  he  also  that  striveth  for  the  mastery,  is  not  crowned 
except  he  strive  lawfully  (2  Tim.  ii,  5).  If  we  also  have  the  ambition 
to  leave  behind  us  an  honorable  name,  let  the  truth  be  impressed  on 
our  mind  that  by  no  other  path  will  we  come  to  it  but  by  that  of  virtue, 
though  the  world  may  follow  the  opposite.  To  immortalize  the  memory 
of  anyone,  we  speak  but  of  his  moral  and  Christian  virtues.  To  exalt  a 
genius  in  art  or  science,  if  not  possessing  virtuous  qualities,  historians 
assiduously  study  to  present  him  with  some  invented  ones.  To  praise  a 
sovereign,  they  begin  with  his  beneficence ;  a  magistrate,  with  his  rectitude; 
a  rich  man,  with  his  liberality ;  a  poor  man,  with  his  patient  submission. 
So  that  at  the  very  moment  when  the  world  with  its  maxims  is  perse 
cuting  virtue,  it  finds  it  necessary  to  acknowledge  it  in  the  initiative  of 
any  glorious  undertaking.  Therefore,  by  an  irresistible  logic,  it  ven 
erates  the  Saints  above  all  ;  and  justly  venerates  Mary  Magdalen  De- 
Pazzi  with  a  eulogy  superior  to  that  which  will  ever  be  given  to  those 
personages  who  become  celebrated  by  despotism,  by  power,  by  war,  by 
riches,  by  science — proving  every  day  that,  as  Fenelon  says,  4 '  Man  is 
always  small  when  he  is  not  great  except  by  vanity." 






PEOPLE. — He  who  carries  his  cross  for  the  love  of  God  never 
succumbs  to  its  weight.  Deified,  so  to  say,  by  the  merits 
of  Christ,  it  contains  in  itself  so  much  sweetness  and  relief 
that  it  often  infuse's  into  the  soul  of  the  patient  sufferer  the 
most  lively  consolation.  This  faithful  Bride  of  Christ  for 
whom  tribulations  were  like  fuel  that  kindled  in  her  more 
and  more  the  fire  of  Divine  love,  during  those  five  years, 
was  comforted  and  consoled  in  various  ways.  Now  by  means  of 
the  Most  Holy  Sacrament ;  now  by  being  raised  into  ecstasy,  and  thus 
partaking  of  the  celestial  secrets ;  and  now  by  joyous  and  wonderful 
apparitions,  either  of  her  Divine  Spouse,  or  of  the  Blessed  Virgin, 
the  angels,  or  her  patron  Saints  ;  but  especially  by  the  following  occur 
rence:  On  February  5th,  1585,  which,  in  that  year,  was  Shrove-Thurs- 

day that  is,  the  last  Thursday  of  carnival — the  nuns  were  making,  as 

was  customary,  a  devout  exercise,  to  atone  for  so  many  offenses  which 
in  those  bacchanal  days  were  wont  to  be  offered  to  the  Divine  Majesty, 
when  she,  considering  such  offenses  in  the  bitterness  of  her  heart,  was 
rapt  in  ecstasy,  and  the  suffering  Jesus  appeared  to  her  in  the  act  and 
under  the  form  in  which  the  impious  Pilate  showed  Him  to  the  Hebrew 
people,  saying :  "  Ecce  Homo."  At  such  a  sight,  inflamed  with  the  most 
fervent  desire  to  suffer,  she  exclaimed :  "  My  Jesus,  why  cannot 
be  the  one  who  suffers  as  many  pains,  derisions,  and  abuses  as  those 
traitors  make  Thee  suffer  when  Pilate  shows  Thee  to  the  people? 
Why  cannot  I  remove  from  Thy  head  that  piercing  crown  that  pains 
Thee  so  much,  and  put  it  on  my  own,  as  it  is  for  me  Thou  wearest  it, 
and  for  me  Thou  sufferest  these  pains  and  torments  ?  "  Then  she  under 
stood  that  Jesus,  to  comply  with  her  virtuous  wish,  would  give  her  a 
precious  gift,  full  at  once  of  sadness  and  sweetness— that  is,  the  3 
packet  of  mvrrh  of  His  passion,  such  as  St.  Bernard  had  been  favored 
with.  Hence  she,  gladly  and  with  sentiments  of  affection,  begged  of 
this  Saint  to  prepare  her  to  receive  it,  sanctifying  her  in  the  blood 
of  Jesus.  After  this,  naming  separately  the  instruments  of  the  passion  of 

86  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

her  Divine  Spouse,  whilst  seeming  to  be  in  His  embrace,  she  extended 
her  hands  as  if  in  the  act  of  receiving  that  great  gift,  and  then,  as 
though  she  had  received  it,  pressed  her  hands  closely  to  her  breast  and 
said:  "Fasciculus  myrrhcz  dilectus  meus  mihi,  inter  ubera  me  a  com- 
morabitur" — UA  bundle  of  myrrh  is  my  beloved  to  me:  he  shall  abide 
between  my  breasts"  (Cant,  i,  12).  Saying  this,  she  fell  to  the  ground, 
trembling,  with  manifest  signs  of  great  suffering  ;  and,  in  fact,  as  she 
afterwards  related  by  obedience,  at  that  moment,  not  only  in  her  mind, 
but  also  in  her  body,  she  felt  the  most  excruciating  torments.  Having 
come  to  herself  shortly  after,  filled  with  fervor,  and  stronger  and  more 
courageous  than  ever,  she  continued  her  combat  against  the  devils. 

2.  SHE  ENJOYS  THE  SIGHT  OF  THE  INFANT  JESUS. — A  few  days  after 
it  pleased  the  Divine  Goodness  to  favor  this  Virgin  Saint  in  a  manner 
not  less  precious  and  effectual.     She  had  anxiously  wished  for  a  long  time 
to  see  the  Infant  Jesus  as  He  looked  when  He  came  from  the  immacu 
late  womb  of  the  most  holy  Mary.     This  wish  was  fully  gratified  when, 
being  rapt   in   ecstasy,  the    Blessed  Virgin  appeared  to  her  with  the 
Divine  Child  as  she  wished  to  see  Him,  and  placed  Him  in  Mary  Mag 
dalen's  arms.      The  Saint  was  overcome   with  delight  and  joy,   and 
seemed  to  melt  with  love.     Words  could  not  express  the  emotion  and 
sentiments  of  tenderness  to  which  she  gave  vent  in  this   contemplation 
of  the  Infant  Jesus. 


THOMAS  AQUINAS. — On  the  yth  of  March  of  the  same  year,  1585,  the 
feast  of  ,St.  Thomas  Aquinas,  as  she  was  contemplating  the  glory  of 
her  patron  Saint,  she  was  rapt  in  an  ecstasy,  during  which  she  saw  him 
surrounded  by  a  glorious  light,  and,  being  by  him  encouraged  to  persist 
dauntless  in  the  combat,  she  was  informed  that  her  aridity  of  spirit  was 
still  to  increase.  Hence,  recommending  herself  with  great  energy  to 
the  intercession  of  the  Saint,  she  seemed  to  see  and  feel  as  though,  before 
leaving  her,  he  had  anointed  her  heart  and  all  her  senses  with  an 
odorous  and  precious  liquid,  which  left  her  spirit  very  cheerful  and 

THE  MYSTERY  OF  THE  WORD  INCARNATE. — Moreover,  on  the  feast  of 
the  Annunciation  of  the  Blessed  Virgin,  in  the  same  year,  meditating  on 
the  most  profound  mystery  of  the  Incarnation,  she  remained  ecstatic  for 
six  whole  hours,  deriving  therefrom  very  great  spiritual  comfort,  as  by 
means  of  celestial  revelations  she  felt  her  understanding  enlightened  and 
her  will  strengthened,  both  of  which  in  the  darkness  of  the  temptations 
she  seemed  to  have  lost. 

HAD  BEEN  FORETOLD  TO  HER. — On  the  twentieth  day  of  July  of  the 
following  year,  1586,  being  the  feast  of  St.  Margaret,  Virgin  and  Martyr, 
whilst  she  was  in  the  choir  reciting  the  divine  office,  her  spirit  was  car 
ried  out  of  her  senses,  and  she  understood  how  God  would  be  pleased  to 
slightly  mitigate  that  spiritual  conflict  until  the  following  month  of 
October.     It  so  happened,  for,  during  that  time,  she  was  left  unmolested 
by  the  diabolical  vexations,  enjoyed  more  tranquillity  and  consolation  of 
Spirit,  and  had  more  frequent  and  remarkable  ecstasies. 

She  receives  the  holy  habit  of  the  Carmelite  Order  (page  37) 



SUPERNATURAL    GIFTS. — But    the   following   month   of  August    was 
chosen  by  Divine  Providence  to  calm  and   strengthen,   in   the  most 
marked  and  efficacious  manner,  the  troubled  spirit  of  Mary  Magdalen.    On 
the  eleventh  day  of  the  month  she  entered  into  a  wonderful  ecstasy,  in 
which  state  she  remained  until  the  fifteenth,  returning  to  her  senses 
for  but  two  hours  each  day,  to  say  the  divine  office  and  take  a  little 
nourishment  of  bread  and  water.     Little  did  she  talk  during  these  four 
days,  and  very  much  did  she  enjoy  the  highest  communication  between 
God  and  herself.     As  the  sentiment  of  despair  was  the  most  apt  to 
depress  her  spirit,  for,  on  account  of  her  humility,  she  continually  feared 
to  be  deluded  in  her  ecstasies  and  revelations,  the  benign  Lord,  who 
does  not  allow  the  humble  of  heart  to  be  dejected,  but  rather  wishes  for 
their  exaltation,  came  to  her  rescue  and  reassured  Ffis  beloved  in  her 
great   affliction   in   a   wonderful   way.     During   the   same   month  she 
had  two  ecstasies,  one  on  the  sixteenth  and  the  other  on  the  twenty- 
fifth,  during  which  she  was  distinctly  assured  that  the  revelations  and 
supernatural  occurrences  she  enjoyed  were  not  delusions  of  the  devil,  but 
pure  consequences  of  God's  love  for  her.     In  the  meantime,  God  let  her 
know  that  He  wanted  her,  for  fifteen  days,  to  take  nourishment  but 
three  times,  namely,  on  the  two  Thursdays  and  the  Sunday  intervening ; 
taking  on  each  Thursday,  in  the  evening  only,  a  little  bread  and  wine, 
and   Lenten  diet  on  Sunday.     This  confirmed  her  more  and  more  in 
regard  to  what  was  now  made  manifest  to  her.     She  made  this  injunc 
tion  known  to  her  spiritual  father  and  the  mother  prioress,  and,  as  they 
also  wished  to  have  some  guarantee  of  the  truth  of  these  visions,  they 
gladly  granted  her  permission  to  follow  it.     In  order  to  faithfully  com 
ply  with  the  Divine  will,  manifested  to  her  on  a  Sunday,  and  having  at 
the  same  time  obtained  permission,  on  the  following  Monday  she  under 
took'  this  fast,  so  that  she  was  without  any  nourishment  at  all  until  the 
evening  of  Thursday,  when  she  took  a  small  quantity  of  bread  and 
wine ;  and  from  then  until  the  evening  of  the  following  Sunday,  and  so 
also  during  the  second  week  she  did  not  even  take  a  drop  of  water, 
except  what  God  had  ordered  her  to  take.     The  most  holy  Bucharistic 
Bread,   which   she   received   every   morning,    was   the   true   and   only 
restorative  that  helped  her  to  pass  through  the  fifteen  days,  even  more 
active  than  usual  at  all  the  exercises  of  Religion.     To  the  great  astonish 
ment  of  the  nuns,  they  never  saw  her  tired  or  pale,  nor  showing  a  sign 
of  weakness,  much  less  of  succumbing  or  giving  way,  on  account  of 
her  excessive  abstinence,  as  some  of  the  nuns  supposed  would  happen. 
The  Lord,  to  reward  such  loyal  and   complete   correspondence,   con 
firmed  her  in  the  assurance  of  not  being  deceived,  so  that  the  enemy 
lost  all  hope  of  seducing  her  in  this  manner ;  and  likewise  her  confessor 
and   the  nuns,    not  being   able   to   doubt   such   a   sign's   being   from 
God,  subdued  to  a  great  extent  the  fear  they  had  begun  to  entertain 
about  the  truth  of  her  actions  and  visions. 


was  in  a  most  humble  posture  with  a  rope  around  her  neck,  as  was 
said  above,  she  kissed  the  feet  of  all  the  sisters.  Afterward,  full  of 

88  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

spiritual  joy,  she  withdrew  to  the  choir,  and  there,  being  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
Jesus,  glorious  and  resplendent,  appeared  to  her,  and,  to  reward  this 
humiliation,  lovingly  received  her  into  His  arms,  and  with  a  kiss  of  divine 
love  inebriated  her  with  such  sweetness  that  she  gave  evidence  thereof 
in  her  countenance  and  her  whole  person.  In  the  same  ecstasy  she  saw 
St.  John  the  Evangelist  and  St.  Catherine  of  Siena,  who,  by  means  of 
strong  chains,  bound  the  devils  she  had  vanquished  and  overcome. 

8.  SHE    SEES   JESUS    SCOURGED,;    AND    SHE    HEARS    HOW    HER 
HUMILIATION  is  PLEASING  TO   GOD. — Having  procured  somebody  to 
tie   her   behind   the   book-stand   of  the  choir,  to  her  humiliation,  in 
such  a  position  she  was  rapt  in  ecstasy,  and  then  she  saw  Jesus  tied  to 
the  pillar  and  scourged.     She  was  wonderfully  consoled  by  this  vision 
and  encouraged  to  suffer  every  pain  for  the  love  of  the  suffering  Jesus. 
Another  time,  aftej  the  act  of  humiliation  in  which  she  caused  herself 
to  be  bound  blindfolded  to  the  grates  of  the  choir,  she,  when  loosened  and 
unveiled,    prostrated   herself    before   the   altar   of  the  Blessed   Virgin. 
Here  she  immovably  fixed  her  eyes  on  the  image  and  was  raised  into  an 
ecstasy,  during  which  the  Lord  told  her  that  this  action  had  pleased 
Him  very  much,  as  He  regards  closely  and  with  love  all  acts  of  humility, 
and  distantly  and  with  contempt  all   acts  of  pride.     She  also  under 
stood  how  the  devils  were  confused  at  it ;  and  she  seemed  to  hear  their 
roars,  as  if  they  could  not  endure  her  humiliations. 

9.  SHE  SEES  THE  GLORY  OF  ST.  AUGUSTINE. — On  the  eve  of  St. 
Augustine's  day,  1587,  as  she  was  reciting  some  psalms  in  honor  of  this 
Saint,  she  felt  a  great  desire  to  see  his  glory.     God  complied  with  her 
desire.      On  the  evening  of  the  same  day,  as  she  was  in  the  choir  for  the 
recitation  of  compline,  she  was  rapt  in  ecstasy,  and  the  vision  of  St 
Augustine,  in  his  most  refulgent  glory,  was  presented  to  her  imagination  ; 
by  which,  as  if  that  glory  in  some  way  redounded  unto  her,  her  eyes 
became  brilliant  with  celestial  joy,  and  in  her  countenance  shone  a  cer 
tain  divine  beauty.     She  then  addressed  to  the  Saint  most  affectionate 
words.     The  following  night,  being  also  in  the  choir  for  matin,  she  saw, 
ecstatically,   St.   Augustine  as  glorious  as  the  preceding  night;    and, 
remaining  for  a  while  in  this  contemplation,  she  finished  the  office 
by  herself,  in  such  a  way  that  reciting  one  verse  she  would  pass  over 
the    other   in    silence    lasting   as    long   as    would   be   required   by   its 
recital.     It  was  concluded  from  this  that  the  Saint  himself  was  her  part 
ner  in  the  psalmody.     She  also  gave  evidence  of  hearing  at  the  same 
time  the  angelic  melodies,  as,  listening  very  attentively,  she  burst  into 
these  words:  "  These  songs  are  far  different  from  those  we  engage  in  on 
earth!"     Having   ended    thus    the  recital   of  matin,   she  remained   in 
ecstatic  contemplation  until  the  time  for  Holy  Communion,  when,  having 
received  with  ineffable  sweetness  and  fervor  the  Eucharistic  Bread,  she 
came  to  herself  from  the  ecstasy.     In  customary  obedience,  she  related 
how  God  in  this  instance  increased  the  strength  of  her  spirit  to  over 
come  her  enemies  and  advance  in  spiritual  perfection. 

ecstasy  she  had  on  the  i7th  of  September  of  the  same  year,  1587,  was 
very  wonderful  and  effective.     Being  fiercely  attacked  in  the  virtue  of 
chastity,  as  was  related,  and  forbidden  by  her  confessor  and  her  mother 


superioress  from  again  throwing  herself  among  thorns,  or  doing  any 
other  injury  to  her  body,  she,  by  way  of  compensation,  gave  herself  up 
to  prayer  with  redoubled  fervor,  imploring  above  all  the  assistance 
of  the  Queen  of  virgins.  On  the  same  day,  it  happened  that,  hav 
ing  withdrawn  to  a  remote  chamber,  by  prayers  of  a  most  suppliant 
devotion,  and  by  most  touching  tears,  she  turned  to  the  most  pure 
Mother  of  God,  that  she  might  obtain  for  her  such  a  victory  over  the 
impure  temptations,  that  her  virginity  would  not  be  stained  in  the  least 
thereby.  Having  just  made  the  request,  the  Blessed  Virgin  appeared  to 
her  in  the  form  of  a  noble  and  tender  mother,  and,  consoling  her,  told 
her  to  be  calm,  as  in  all  such  temptations  she  had  never  offended  God ; 
"nay,  by  her  courageous  fight  with  the  impure  spirit,  she  had  come  out 
completely  victorious,  and,  as  a  reward  therefor,  the  Blessed  Virgin  put 
on  her  a  pure  white  veil,  and  told  her,  moreover,  that  in  future  she 
would  not  again  have  to  surfer  the,  temptations  or  suggestions  of  im 
purity.  At  this  moment,  Mary  Magdalen  interiorly  felt  as  if  all  appetite 
of  carnal  concupiscence  was  being  reduced,  and  that  all  the  disordered 
fire  of  sensuality  had  been  extinguished  in  an  ineffable  manner.  In 
fact,  during  all  her  life,  this  angelic  soul  was  not  again  molested  by  a 
desire  of  the  flesh,  nor  even  by  any  imagination  or  the  least  thought 
contrary  to  holy  purity. 


the  tempi  ition  of  forsaking  the  Religious  habit,  on  the  5th  of  August, 
1588,  after  having  resisted  it  with  great  strength,  in  order  the  better  to 
remove  it,  she  began  to  read  attentively  the  life  of  St.  Diego,  her  par 
ticular  protector.  While  reading,  she  was  alienated  from  her  senses,  and 
saw,  in  spirit,  this  Saint  showing  her  a  pure  white  habit  which  came 
out  of  the  side  of  the  Divine  Redeemer.  Magdalen  being  charmed 
with  it,  felt  an  ardent  wish  to  be  clothed  with  it,  and,  with  great 
warmth,  supplicated  her  Celestial  Spouse  to  give  it  to  her,  and  through 
the  merits  of  St.  Albert,  Carmelite — whose  feast  was  being  celebrated  on 
that  day — to  condescend  to  clothe  her  interiorly  with  it,  that  she  might 
more  efficaciously  imitate  the  Saint  whose  life  she  was  reading.  Panting 
for  it  with  all  her  heart,  and  keeping  her  eyes  fixed  on  a  Crucifix  that 
stood  before  her,  she  saw,  coming  out  of  His  side,  a  tunic  even  more 
beautiful  and  precious  than  the  habit  mentioned  above ;  He  had  in 
his  right  hand  a  scapular  ;  in  His  left,  a  cincture  ;  on  His  head,  crowned 
with  thorns,  a  white  veil ;  and,  coining  out  of  the  wound  in  the  neck, 
caused  by  carrying  the  cross,  a  shining  mantle.  This  sight  having 
filled  her  with  the  liveliest  enthusiasm,  she  suddenly  leaped  upon  the 
altar  where  -this  Crucifix  was,  and  there,  performing  all  the  acts  which 
are  wont  to  be  made  at  the  first  reception  of  the  Religious  habit,  and 
pronouncing  the  appropriate  words,  manifestly  demonstrated  that  she 
received  from  the  hands  of  Jesus  that  habit  of  religious  form  and 
divine  origin.  And,  as  if  already  dressed,  she  proceeded  through  the 
ceremonv,  giving  evidence  that  the  Queen  of  Heaven  placed  the  gar 
land  on  her  head,  and  the  light  and  the  Crucifix  in  her  hands,  as  is  usually 
done  with  the  new  Religious.  The  angels  well  attended  to  the  Dinging 
of  the  customary  verses  chanted  by  the  nuns  during  the  dressing,  nor 

90  THE   LIKE   AND   WORKS   OK 

was  sacramental  Communion  wanting  in  this  ecstatic  ceremony,  as,  at 
that  point,  she  said  the  Confiteor  and  Domine,  non  sum  digna,  &c.,  and, 
in  the  attitude  of  receiving  the  Bread  of  Angels,  she  showed  that  Jesus 
Himself  gave  her  Holy  Communion.  Being  thereby  overcome  with 
joy,  she  addressed  these  affectionate  words  to  the  Divine  Spouse  whom 
she  had  received:  " Dilectus  meus  candidus  et  rubicundus" — "My 
beloved  is  white  and  ruddy  (Cant,  v,  10)  .  .  .  "  Speciosus  forma  prtz 
filiis  hominum" — "Beautiful  above  the  sons  of  men"  (Ps.  xliv,  3)  .  .  . 
44  Electus  ex  millibus" — "Chosen  out  of  thousands"  (Cant,  v,  10). 
u  Diffusa  est  gratia  in  labiis  tuis.  Collocavit  se  in  anima  mea." 
Then,  being  excited  by  the  greatest  desire  to  lead  everyone  to  this 
divine  Sacrament,  she  subjoined :  ' '  Dilata,  Domine  Jesu,  cor  meum, 
nt  inducam  omnem  creaturam  ad  communionem  corporis  et  sanguinis 
tui"  And,  giving  vent  to  the  sentiments  she  felt  in  her  heart  towards 
the  Divine  Goodness,  she  exclaimed:  u  Quam  bonus  Israel  Deus /" 
Then,  taking  the  Crucifix  out  of  which  she  had  seen  the  habit  come,  and 
having  thanked  the  Lord  for  all  the  graces  with  which  He  had  favored 
her,  and  recommended  to  Him  the  salvation  of  all  souls,  she  gave  it  to 
all  the  nuns  present,  that  they  might  kiss  it.  Finally,  coming  to  herself 
from  the  rapture,  she  placed  before  the  superioress  the  plain  mani 
festation  of  the  above-mentioned  favors  which  she  had  enjoyed  ecstati 
cally  for  the  space  of  three  hours. 






|N  June  of  1587,  a  brother  of  the  Saint  died.  Whilst  she 
was  praying  to  God  for  his  soul,  she  was  transported  in 
imagination  into  purgatory,  where  she  saw  that  soul  suffer 
ing  unutterable  torments.  At  such  a  sight  she  prayed  with 
redoubled  fervor  to  the  Divine  Goodness  for  its  deliverance  ; 
and  having  remained  in  devout  prayer  for  over  half  an  hour, 
she  came  to  herself,  much  terrified.  Then,  with  her  eyes 
filled  with  tears  of  sadness,  she  went  to  the  superioress,  and, 
falling  on  her  knees  at  her  feet,  said  in  a  tone  of  amazement  and  sorrow: 
"O  Mother!  great,  indeed,  are  the  pains  which  the  souls  suffer  in  purga 
tory  !  I  would  never  have  thought  them  to  be  so  intense,  had  God  not 
given  me  some  light  in  regard  to  them."  Also,  on  the  day  following,  medi 
tating  on  those  pains,  she  fell  into  a  painful  alienation  from  the  senses, 
during  which,  turning  to  heaven,  she  exclaimed:  "O  my  God,  my  heart 
cannot  bear  to  live  on  earth  and  converse  with  creatures  after  such  a 
sight."  But  on  the  evening  of  the  day  following,  whilst  she  was  in  the 
garden  with  the  other  nuns,  her  spirit  wandered  at  greater  length,  and 
more  distinctly  among  the  various  conditions  of  the  suffering  souls. 
With  a  sad  and  pale  countenance,  her  eyes  showing  the  sorrowful  object 
which  absorbed  her,  with  a  grave  bearing,  she  started  and  at  a  slow  pace 
went  around  the  garden,  and,  stopping  now  here  and  now  there,  gave 
evidence  of  seeing  most  excessive  and  diverse  pains.  From  the  words 
she  uttered,  it  seemed  as  if  in  one  place  she  saw  the  pains  of  the  Reli 
gious  ;  in  another,  those  of  the  hypocrites ;  then  those  of  the  ignorant ; 
then  those  of  the  disobedient ;  here,  those  of  the  impatient;  there,  those 
of  the  liars ;  besides  those  of  the  ambitious,  the  proud,  the  avaricious, 
and,  lastly,  those  of  the  ungrateful.  Such  was  the  terror  that  seized 
her  on  beholding  this  sight,  and  such  the  compassion  she  felt  for  the 
sufferings  of  others,  that,  because  of  the  intensity  and  variety  of  feeling, 
now  she  would  stoop  down  to  the  ground,  now  sadly  shake  her  head, 
now  clasp  her  hands,  now,  raising  her  eyes  to  heaven,  with  deep  sighs, 
address  to  God  the  most  fervent  prayers  for  the  suffering  souls,  and  now 
invite  heaven  and  earth  to  share  in  her  distress.  She  would  also  turn 
herself  to  the  poor  souls,  now  addressing  words  of  compassion  to  them ; 
now  reproaching  them  for  the  sins  for  which  they  were  tortured^  and 
now  comforting  them  by  the  hope  of  the  joy  they  expected.  So  lively 

<)2  THE    LIFR    AND   WORKS   OF 

were  the  acts  she  performed,  so  fervent  and  resolute  the  words  she 
uttered  in  this  ecstasy,  that  she  actually  appeared  to  see  those  torments 
with  her  corporal  eyes ;  and  she  so  touched  the  nuns  present  as  even  to 
make  them  shed  tears,  and  enkindle  in  all  in  the  monastery  a  permanent 
fervor  of  praying  to  God  for  the  souls  in  purgatory.  Among  the  remark 
able  things  she  said  about  these  pains,  was  that  "  all  torments  endured 
by  the  martyrs  are  like  being  in  a  delicious  garden,  compared  to  what 
the  souls  in  purgatory  suffer;"  and  then,  when  out  of  the  rapture,  she 
added  that  "  those  pains  were  so  terrible  that  if  in  seeing  them  she  had 
not  had  the  assistance  of  her  guardian  angel  and  St.  Augustine,  who 
continually  accompanied  her  in  that  place,  she  could  not  have  endured 
such  a  sight."  From  this  vision  she  learned  how  to  understand  and  better 
venerate  the  perfection  of  the  purity  of  God,  who  does  not  permit  to 
enter  into  His  kingdom  any  but  souls  purified  and  cleansed  of  even  the 
least  stain  of  guilt ;  and  she  resolved  to  hate  sin  more,  resist  the  tempta 
tions  with  greater  strength,  and  with  frequent  prayers  and  expiatory 
deeds  relieve  the  suffering  souls.  Among  these,  cutting  off  by  the'arm 
of  faith  all  the  doubts  that  audacious  and  foolish  unbel  ief  present  to  us, 
we  should  reflect  that  there  are  now,  also,  our  relatives  and  friends,  who 
anxiously  await  our  mercy.  Oh,  if  it  would  only  be  given  us  to  hear 
their  plaintive  appeals !  Like  St.  Mary  Magdalen,  let  us  also  revive 
our  faith  and  fervor  on  behalf  of  those  blessed  souls !  None  of  us  are 
free  from  at  least  some  obligation  towards  the  dead.  The  strictest  duties 
of  acknowledgment,  of  gratitude,  of  justice  call  upon  us  to  help  them. 
Nor  can  we  flatter  ourselves  that  we  have  nobody  there  belonging  to 
us  by  some  title ;  as  it  is  very  seldom  that  one  may  leave  this  mortal 
life  having  no  need  of  purification.  "No  man  is  without  sin,"  teaches 
the  Apostle.  "  No  creature  can  justify  herself  before  God,"  says  Job. 
The  mercy  of  God,  it  is  true,  forgives  all ;  but  His  justice  retains 
some  part  of  the  debt,  which  we  must  pay  in  the  next  life  before 
our  souls  can  sit  at  the  banquet  of  the  Lamb,  like  immaculate  daughters 
of  Zion.  Hence,  it  is  also  to  our  own  interest  to  relieve  the  suffering 
souls,  as  it  being  almost  inevitable  that  we  will  pass  through  or  rather 
remain  for  some  time  in  that  place  of  sighs  and  desires,  by  shortening  for 
them  the  road  to  heaven,  we  make  it  easier  for  ourselves  ;  and  by  obtain 
ing  for  them  the  possession  of  the  sovereign  good,  we  render  ourselves 
less  unworthy  of  possessing  it,  and  consequently  we  diminish  the  amount 
of  our  debts  and  shorten  the  time  of  our  deliverance.  ( '  Do  good  unto 
the  just  soul,"  says  the  wise  man,  "and  thou  shalt  be  rewarded  for  it." 
It  is  not  faith  alone,  nor  the  Church  only,  that  reminds  us  of  the  needs  of 
the  dead;  but  a  universal  custom,  as  old  as  the  world,  plainly  proves  that 
God  Himself  has  implanted  in  man  such  pious  and  noble  sentiments  for 
the  memory  of  the  departed,  as  if  to  admonish  us  of  the  future  survival, 
to  which  we  are  immortally  privileged.  The  Church  proposes  several 
means  of  fulfilling  so  solemn  and  sacred  a  duty,  as  suffrages  of  piety;  but 
our  heart  has  full  liberty  of  choice  among  all  virtuous  works.  Even  the 
merest  thought  directed  to  good,  God  accepts  in  expiation  of  the  faults 
of  others.  Let  us,  then,  remember  to  place,  with  Tobias,  our  bread  and 
our  wine  on  the  sepulchre  of  the  just,  that  is,  to  offer  daily  for  them 
some  sacrifice  to  the  Lord. 





ST.  GREGORY,  commenting  on  these  words  of  the 
Divine  Master — "  Qui  non  renuntiat  omnibus  qu<z  possidet, 
non  potest  meus  esse  discipuhis  " — said  that  he  who  under 
takes  to  fight  the  devil  must  put  off  the  vestments  of  earthly 
things  :  "  Qui  contra  diabolum  ad  certamen  proper  at,  vesti- 
menta  abiiciat,  ne  succumbat"  Thus  God,  who  wished  the 
greatest  perfection  for  this  fighting  soul,  having  placed  it  in 
this  fight  as  if  in  an  encounter  with  the  devil,  notwith 
standing  her  being  divested  of  every  earthly  thing — that  is,  of  all  attach 
ments  to  this  world,  which  are  just  the  vestments  meant  by  the  above 
text — yet  He  also  imposed  on  her  the  literal  observance  of  such  a 
precept,  so  that  the  lightness  of  the  body  might  correspond  to  the  prompt 
attitude  of  the  spirit  in  victoriously  fighting  all  her  enemies.  It  was 
the  5th  of  July,  1587,  when  God,  having  taken  this  faithful  servant 
into  ecstasy,  gave  her  to  understand  it  to  be  His  will  that. she  should  go 
barefooted,  choose  the  meanest  among  the  habits  of  the  Religious,  and 
take  for  herself  the  poorest  cell  and  the  most  wretched  bed.  She, 
without  interposing  a  single  thought  of  delay,  being  still  in  ecstasy, 
took  off  her  shoes  and  stockings,  and,  going  to  her  cell,  removed  there 
from  every  object,  even  the  least  one,  with  the  exception  of  a  Crucifix 
on  the  little  altar;  she  also  stripped  the  bed,  leaving  only  a  straw 
mattress  and  a  board.  Then,  going  to  the  room  where  the  nuns'  habits 
were  kept  and  repaired,  she  opened  the  closets  to  see  what  tunics  they 
contained.  Selecting  the  most  worn  and  patched  one,  she  withdrew  to 
another  room,  where,  taking  off  the  one  she  had  on,  she  put  on  the 
other.  The  contentment  and  joy  of  her  heart  at  seeing  herself  so  meanly 
clad  for  the  love  of  God  was  so  great,  that,  fixing  her  eyes  on  heaven, 
she  thanked  Divine  Providence  for  it  as  for  a  special  benefit,  and,  with 
unutterable  emotion  of  affection,  recited  the  Te  Deum.  After  this, 
making  a  bundle  of  her  former  habit,  she  brought  it  to  the  room  of  the 
mother  superioress,  and,  taking  an  inkstand,  with  pen  and  paper,  imme 
diately  went  to  the  choir,  and  then  ascending  the  altar  of  the  Blessed 
Virgin,  and  kneeling  down,  placed  the  paper  in  the  bosom  of  the  sacred 
image,  with  her  profession  renewed  in  writing  upon  it,  in  these  words  : 

94  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

u  I,  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  make  profession  of  and  promise  to  God — to  His 
most  pure  Mother,  the  Virgin  Mary,  to  St.  Catherine  of  Siena,  and  to 
Francis  the  Seraphic,  and  to  all  the  celestial  court — obedience,  chastity, 
and  poverty  in  the  manner  in  which  God  at  this  moment  makes  me 
understand  and  know ;  with  a  firm  purpose  of  never  leaving  it  unless  I 
should  have  a  true  light,  making  me  know  that  it  is  pleasing  to  Him,  as 
I  now  understand  that  it  is  truly  Himself  who  wants  me  to  observe  this 
poverty;  hence,  confiding  in  His  help  and  mercy,  I  make  this  profession — 
in  manu  puritatis  Maricz  "  — u  in  the  hands  of  Mary's  purity." 

Whilst  she  wrote  this  spontaneous  formula,  she  kept  her  left 
hand  continually  on  the  hands  of  the  image.  Then  laying  down 
the  pen,  with  her  right  hand  on  the  inkstand,  and  gravely  stretching 
out  her  left  hand  on  the  paper,  and,  finally  joining  both  of  them 
with  energy,  she  said  with  a  firm  voice :  "If  anybody  shall  tell  me 
that  I  invent  a  new  rule,  I  will  answer  that  it  is  no  novelty,  but  simply 
perfecting  my  rule,  as  all  should  do."  She  then  spoke  of  holy  poverty 
in  such  a  manner  as  to  excite  in  all  the  sisters  who  heard  her  a  great 
desire  to  observe  it  minutely.  Finally,  turning  again  to  the  Blessed 
Virgin,  with  affectionate  and  pressing  words,  she  begged  that  she  would 
take  her  under  her  constant  and  particular  protection,  and  help  her  to  do 
all  that  God  had  manifested  to  her  that  she  should  do.  Then,  coming 
to  herself  from  her  rapture,  she  went  to  the  mother  prioress,  and  falling 
on  her  knees,  with  her  hands  joined,  entreated  her  in  the  name  of  God 
not  to  prevent  her  following  that  mode  of  life  which  Heaven  so  evi 
dently  dictated  for  her.  The  prioress  answered  at  the  moment,  with  all 
prudence,  that  it  was  necessary  to  inform  the  spiritual  father,  and  then 
all  should  submit  to  his  advice.  Her  desire  having  been  made  known 
to  the  confessor,  before  he  granted  the  permission  he  wished  to  assure 
himself,  by  a  new  trial,  of  the  obedience  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen, 
thinking  also  that  he  thereby  would  ascertain  whether  there  was  any 
diabolical  deception  in  it.  Hence  he  positively  commanded  her  to  put 
on  her  shoes  and  stockings,  and  clothe  herself  with  her  usual  vestments. 
The  Saint  felt  an  extreme  disappointment  in  finding  her  spiritual  director 
differ  from  the  revelation  just  narrated,  and  the  doubt  arose  in  her  mind 
that  perhaps  she  had  been  deceived,  as  she  could  not  believe  a  decided 
opposition  in  her  spiritual  father  possible,  if  what  she  intended  doing 
were  from  God.  This  grave  doubt  caused  her  to  burst  into  tears;  still, 
wholly  resigned,  she  obeyed.  But  the  Lord  did  not  cease  to  inspire  her 
with  her  former  sentiment,  as  He  wished  it  carried  into  effect  absolutely. 
He  repeated  it  to  her  several  times;  and  on  the  2d  of  the  following 
month,  August,  raising  her  into  ecstasy  again,  He  made  her  feel  an 
irresistible  tendency  to  repeat  the  above-described  action.  Actually 
unable  to  overcome  the  divine  impulse,  she  took  off,  as  before,  her  shoes 
and  stockings,  looked  for  the  poorest  tunic,  which,  for  the  sake  of 
obedience  she  had  left  off,  and,  in  taking  it  up  again,  said  with  a  tremu 
lous  voice:  "  My  God,  when  I  shall  be  with  Thee,  I  will  obey  Thee; 
when  I  shall  be  with  them,  I  will  obey  them.  Give  us  light  here 
below."  The  mother  prioress  saw  and  heard  her,  and,  showing  herself 
to  her  with  an  imposing  appearance,  thus  spoke  to  her  :  "  Sister  Mary 
Magdalen,  for  obedience'  sake,  give  me  these  vestments,  and  do  not 

Whilst  reciting  the  Divine  Office  in  the  choir,  she  receives  the 
blessing  of  the  Blessed  Virgin  (  page  57). 



clothe  yourself  with  them ;  put  on  your  stockings  and  shoes  again." 
At  this  voice  of  obedience,  the  Saint  came  again  to  herself  from  her 
rapture,  and  promptly  gave  up  to  the  superioress  the  tunic  asked  for, 
and  put  on  the  stockings  and  the  shoes  ;  but  something  wonderful  fol 
lowed.  Her  feet  began  to  swell,  and  they  pained  her  so  that  she  could 
not  stand  on  them.  She  could  not  walk  except  on  her  hands  and 
knees;  consequently,  she  was  compelled  to  move  in  this  way  on  the 
ground,  and  when  she  was  to  receive  Holy  Communion  she  had  to  be 
carried  on  the  arms  of  the  other  sisters.  Having  continued  several  days 
in  this  distress,  the  spiritual  father  thought  it  a  sufficient  indication  that 
it  was  the  will  of  God  that  she  should  follow  such  a  mode  of  poverty. 
He,  therefore,  gave  his  affirmative  notification  to  the  mother  prioress, 
and  she  said  to  St.  Mary  Magdalen  :  "  If  you  believe  this  to  be  God's 
will,  the  spiritual  father  gives  you  permission  to  go  barefooted,  according 
to  His  command."  Immediately  Magdalen  took  off  her  shoes  and 
stockings,  and  at  the  same  time — no  less  wonderful  than  in  the  pre 
ceding  occurrence — all  pain  in  her  feet  ceased,  and  the  sisters  noticed 
the  swelling  effectively  decreasing.  She  was  now  ready  to  move  and 
walk  without  pain ;  and,  in  fact,  she  went  quietly  and  without  delay  to 
the  choir,  where,  before  the  usual  altar  of  the  Blessed  Virgin,  she  gave 
to  God  the  most  fervent  thanks  for  having  thus  made  His  Divine  Will 
manifest  to  her  superiors.  After  this,  she  began  to  obey  this  command 
of  God  in  a  most  severe  manner,  dressing  herself  in  the  patched  and 
wornout  tunic,  and  going  barefooted  continually  for  three  years,  suffering 
such  cruel  pains  in  winter  that,  sometimes,  when  walking  on  the 
ice  in  the  garden,  blood  would  flow  from  her  feet,  because  of  the 
delicacy  of  her  skin.  But  she  never  spoke  a  word  of  complaint,  nor  did 
she  ever  adopt  or  accept  any  relief.  At  the  end  of  the  five  years  of  pro 
bation,  having,  as  we  shall  see,  an  inspiration  from  God,  she  again  put 
on  her  shoes  and  slippers,  but  not  her  stockings,  except  during  her  last 
illness.  She  practiced  the  same  poverty  with  regard  to  her  cell  and 
habit  until  her  death,  in  reward  for  which  she  was  introduced  into 
heaven  to  enjoy  unfading  delights. 





]HE  better  to  convince  those  spirits  who  doubted  the  sanctity 
of  Mary  Magdalen,  of  their  injustice,  God  determined  by  the 
following  miracles  to  manifest  to  the  eyes  of  the  world, 
even  in  the  very  midst  of  her  trials,  how  much  her  spirit 
was  adorned  with  it. 

WAS  ALMOST  DYING. — In  1587,  Sister  Fede  de  Domenica 
da  Legnaja,  a  lay-sister  in  the  monastery  of  St.  Maria  degli 
Angeli,  was  suffering  from  the  contraction  of  her  limbs,  and  was  swollen 
from  head  to  foot,  her  left  side  having  become  a  span  shorter  than  the 
other.  In  consequence  of  this  contraction  she  could  neither  move  her 
hands  nor  her  head,  and  suffered  most  cruel  pains  throughout  her  body, 
which  gave  her  not  a  moment's  rest.  Troubled  for  several  months  by  this 
ever-increasing  malady,  she  had  such  little  hope  of  life  that  the  physi 
cians,  considering  any  further  visit  useless,  abandoned  her  altogether  to 
Divine  Providence.  The  sufferer,  in  the  absence  of  all  comfort  from 
human  science,  felt  a  great  confidence  in  the  virtues  of  her  fellow -sister, 
Mary  Magdalen,  arise  with  unusual  strength  in  her  soul.  It  was  the 
month  of  July  of  the  above  year.  Our  Saint,  counseled  by  the  spirit  of 
God,  instead  of  immediately  granting  the  request,  as  according  to  her 
natural  piety  she  would  have  done,  said:  "Tell  Sister  Fede  that  to-day 
is  not  the  time ;  let  her  have  patience  and  prepare  for  to-morrow  at 
Vespers'  time,  when  I  will  visit  her."  The  next  day,  at  the  time 
appointed,  the  Saint,  being  in  the  oratory  of  the  novices  in  ecstasy,  kneel 
ing  before  an  image  of  the  Virgin,  suddenly  arose  to  her  feet,  and  taking 
the  image  in  her  hands,  she  went  with  it  to  the  bed  of  the  sick  sister, 
placed  the  image  on  her,  and  kneeling,  with  suppliant  hands,  addressed 
to  Heaven  in  the  meanwhile  the  most  fervent  prayers  for  the  health  of 
her  sick  fellow-sister.  But  a  few  minutes  elapsed  before  the  sick  sister 
moved  her  arms,  which  before  she  could  not  do  at  all,  took  the  image 
between  her  hands  and  kept  it  there  firmly ;  and  then  our  healer  arose, 
pronouncing  with  great  feeling  these  words  :  "  O  Lord, .  Thy  .will 
be  done;"  and  made  the  sign  of  the  cross  on  the  patient  with  the 
image.  Suddenly  all  the  nerves  of  the  contracted  limbs  extended,  the 
swelling  disappeared,  the  pains  ceased,  and  she  was  wholly  cured, 
so  that  she  would  have  left  her  bed  at  once,  had  not  the  sisters  prevented 



her  doing  so  then.  On  the  following  morning,  meeting  with  no  opposi 
tion,  she  arose  fully  cured,  and  a  few  days  afterwards  (it  was  not  per 
mitted  her  before  by  obedience)  this  Sister  Fede  who  had  been  almost 
dying,  returned  to  her  usual  exercises,  which  were  the  most  laborious  in 
the  monastery. 

2.  SHE   FREES  A    GlRL  WHO   WAS   POSSESSED    BY    THE    DEVIL.  — 
Catherine,  daughter  of  Carlo  Spini,  a  noble  Florentine  maiden,  being 
possessed  by  a  wicked  spirit,  went  with  her  mother,  one  day  in  1588,  to 
visit  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi,  her  relative.    As  the  three  were  con 
versing  at  the  grates  of  the  parlor,  the  Saint  was  raised  into  ecstasy;  at 
the  sight  of  which  the  devil  began  greatly  to  torment  the  girl,  throwing 
her  to  the  floor,  making  her  throat  swell,  and  causing  her  to  roar  and 
bellow,  with  frightful  contortions.     This  sight  moved  Magdalen  to  the 
tenderest  compassion  towards  this  unhappy  creature.     She  sent  for  the 
father  confessor,  who  was  then  in  church,  and  as  soon  as  he  came  to  the 
parlor,  begged  of  him  that  he  would  command  that  spirit  to  depart  im 
mediately  from  the  girl's  body.     But  the  confessor,  who  trusted  more  in 
the  sanctity  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen  than  in"  himself,  answered  her:  "I 
order  thee,  by  holy  obedience,  that  thou  thyself  command  him  to  do 
this."     Then   the   Saint,  with    majestic   demeanor,    full  of  confidence 
in  God,  said  to  the  spirit:  "I  command  thee,  on  the  part  of  God,  that 
thou  depart  from  this  body;"  and  made  the  sign  of  the  cross  on  the 
girl  possessed,  who  was  immediately  left  free  and  at  rest  from  all  trouble, 
as  if  she  had  never  suffered  it,  and  never  more  in  her  life  was  she 
molested  by  that  spirit. 



GAINS  HER  HEALTH.  —  In  August  of  1588,  the  wine  in  a  keg  in  the 
monastery  having  become  sour,  and  the  mother  prioress  having  no  means 
to  provide  good  wine,  she  ordered  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  to  pray  to  Jesus 
that  He  might  be  pleased  to  turn  the  spoiled  wine  again  into  good  wine. 
Then  our  Saint,  strengthened  by  obedience,  took  a  little  framed  picture 
which  represented  St.  Diego,  and  going  with  it  to  the  wine-cellar,  after 
a  short  prayer,  made  the  sign  of  the  cross  over  the  keg.  After  this,  the 
sister-butler  came  to  draw  wine,  and  found  it,  in  fact,  restored  to  its 
former  good  taste.  The  nuns  gave  thanks  to  God,  who  had  so  miracu 
lously  provided  for  their  needs.  A  fellow-sister,  Mary  Angiola  Santucci, 
was  then  confined  to  her  bed  by  a  serious  illness,  and,  on  hearing  of 
this  miracle,  asked  for  a  drink  of  the  wine.  No  sooner  had  she  tasted 
it  than  she  felt  a  notable  relief  from  her  illness,  and,  feeling  her  hope 
of  ultimate  recovery  increase,  she  wanted  to  taste  more  of  it  on  the 
following  day.  After  this,  she  felt  better  ;  and  on  the  third  day,  taking 
the  same  small  quantity,  she  recovered  her  health  entirely,  to  the  inex 
pressible  wonder  of  the  sisters,  who  could  not  help  being  cognizant 
the  double  prodigy  worked  through  the  virtue  of  our  humble  and  holy 

NUN  AND  HEALS  HER  —For  many  years,  Sister  Barbara  Bassi,  a  nun 
in  said  monastery,  had  been  subject  to  such  a  terrible  disease  that, 
according  to  the  doctor'*;  verdict,  the  mass  of  the  blood  having  become 

98  THE    LIFE   AND  WORKS   OF 

infected,  the  acid  humor  gradually  gnawed  her  flesh,  and  conse 
quently  diminished  from  day  to  day  the  efficacy  of  any  medicine.  In 
1589,  she  had  come  to  distrust  her  health  so  much  that,  seeing  herself 
covered  with  sores  and  scabs,  with  a  perceptible  wasting  of  her  body, 
she  had  given  up  the  use  of  all  remedies,  and  was  not  even  taking  care 
to  guard  herself  in  her  room,  but  wandered  through  the  monastery  a 
prey  to  thoughts  of  sadness  and  despair.  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  re 
turning  one  morning  after  Holy  Communion  to  her  cell,  met  this  poor 
sick  sister  in  a  very  retired  place.  On  account  of  the  great  charity  with 
which  her  heart  was  burning  for  her  neighbor,  and  the  compassion  she 
actually  felt,  she  began  to  lick  with  her  tongue  the  hands,  the  arms,  and 
the  limbs  infected  with  the  disease,  saying  to  the  sufferer  that,  if 
she  should  have  faith  and  trust  in  God  and  the  Blessed  Virgin,  she 
would  recover.  In  fact,  two  or  three  days  afterwards,  she  unexpectedly 
found  herself  wholly  healed,  her  flesh  being  as  pure  and  clean  as  if  she  had 
never  suffered  any  illness,  and  she  was  never  again  attacked  with  such  an 


MAKING  THE  SIGN  OF  THE  CROSS. — In  the  same  year,  1589,  Sister 
Pace  Colombini,  a  lay-sister  of  the  same  monastery,  being  struck  with 
apoplexy  and  having  lost  the  feeling  in  her  left  side  to  such  an  extent  that 
she  did  not  feel  the  least  pain  from  a  long  pin's  being  thrust  in  by  the 
physicians.  Mary  Magdalen  finding  herself  one  day  in  the  room  of  this 
sick  sister,  the  mother  prioress  asked  her  to  pray  for  her  and  bless  her. 
Our  Saint,  on  account  of  her  humility,  refused  to  do  this  for  a  while ; 
but,  conquered  by  obedience  and  charity,  she  made  the  sign  of  the  cross 
over  the  sick  nun,  who  immediately  felt  that  some  life  was  returning  to 
the  dead  side.  Being  animated  to  hope  well  from  her  great  benefactress, 
she  begged  her,  with  the  greatest  fervor,  that  she  would  continue  to  pray 
for  her  and  visit  her.  On  the.  following  day,  Magdalen  was  anxious  to 
comply  with  the  patient's  wish,  and  visited  her,  and  again  made  the  sign 
of  the  cross  over  her.  The  paralytic  felt  likewise  a  new  vigor  in  her 
limbs,  so  that  she  began  to  move  them  a  little.  On  the  third  day,  re 
peating  the  visit  and  the  blessing,  our  Saint  accomplished  the  prodigy 
of  a  perfect  cure,  so  that  Sister  Pace  Colombini  said  with  a  firm  voice  : 
"I  am  healed."  Shortly  after,  she  got  out  of  her  bed  to  the  great 
amazement  of  all  the  nuns,  and  much  more  of  the  doctor,  who,  having 
been  unable  to  see,  according  to  his  science,  any  hope  of  recovery  from 
such  an  illness,  could  not  assign  a  human  reason  for  seeing  her  well  and 
occupied,  like  any  other  lay-sister,  in  the  housework  of  the  monastery. 
This  lay-sister  was  never  more  overtaken  by  this  illness  as  they  gener 
ally  are  who  have  once  had  a  stroke. 

Thus  did  God  at  once  humble  and  exalt  this,  His  handmaid,  who, 
bv  her  sanctity,  confounded  the  rebellious  and  proud  Lucifer;  condemned 
the  world  in  its  false  glories,  its  ridiculous  pomps,  and  its  vices ;  con 
demned  also  her  fellow-sisters  of  the  monastery  in  their  unjust  doubts; 
and  glorified  more  and  more  the  holy  Name  of  God,  furnishing  in  herself 
a  new  proof  of  the  truth  of  that  evangelical  principle,  that  "  triumph 
belongs  to  him  who  is  the  most  sincere,"  in  opposition  to  the  political 
sophism  that  "  the  right  belongs  to  him  who  is  the  shrewdest." 







JHB  end  of  the  five  years  ordained  by  God  for  the  probation 
of  the  Saint  was  drawing  near,  when,  on  Easter  Sunday, 
the  22d  of  April,  1590,  being  raised  out  of  her  senses,  she 
understood  it  to  be  the  will  of  God  that  she  should  under 
take  a  new  Lent  of  rigid  penance,  to  last  until  the  next 
Pentecost,  when  the  combat  would  cease.  This  penance 
she  was  to  perform  in  atonement  for  all  the  faults  she 
had  committed  during  those  five  years,  assigning  ten  days 
for  each  year.  Hence,  most  faithful  to  the  divine  inspirations,  with 
His  permission,  she  fasted  all  the  fifty  days  on  bread  and  water,  slept 
on  the  bare  floor,  except  Sundays,  when  she  would  rest  a  little  while  on 
the  ordinary  straw-bed.  Besides  many  mortifications,  spiritual  exer 
cises,  and  other  penances  which  she  ordinarily  practiced,  not  a  day  of 
these  fifty  passed  without  her  cruelly  scourging  her  flesh  with  an  iron 
discipline,  keeping  before  her  a  human  skull,  a  cross,  and  a  clepsydra 
indicating  the  half-hour,  which  she  would  very  often  overstep,  and  some 
times  even  double  in  scourging  herself. 

Having  reached  through  such  austerity  the  9th  of  June,  the  eve  of 
Pentecost,  and  feeling  in  the  morning  unusually  afflicted  from  an 
unknown  cause,  she  withdrew  to  a  place  apart  and  used  the  discipline 
on  herself  for  the  space  of  almost  an  hour ;  then  she  went  to  the  oratory 
of  the  novices,  where,  praying  before  the  image  of  our  Lady,  she  had  an 
ecstasy  of  nearly  two  hours.  The  superioress,  in  order  to  get  a  new 
proof 'of  her  obedience,  called  her  during  that  time,  ordering  her  to 
present  herself  to  her.  At  the  voice  of  the  mother,  quickly  returning 
to  her  senses,  with  deep  humility  she  knelt  at  her  feet,  and,  in  obedience, 
related  all  she  had  understood  during  this  ecstasy.  It  was  that  the  Lord 
was  pleased  that  in  future  she  should  go  barefooted  no  more,  as  she  had 
been  doing  for  three  years,  but  should  put  on  her  sandals,  though  not 
her  stockings  ;  that  on  the  following  three  feast-days  of  the  Holy  Ghost 
she  should  conform  herself  to  the  life  of  the  community,  eating  meat  and 
whatever  else  the  monastery  allowed  ;  and  this,  every  year  on  this  solem 
nity,  as  a  joyous  remembrance  that  on  this  feast  her  painful  probation 

100  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

had  ended  by  God's  taking  her  victorious  out  of  the  den  of  infernal  lions. 
As  the  Jews  yearly  celebrated  the  remembrance  of  their  having  been 
freed  from  Pharaoh's  slavery,  so  she  was  to  do  likewise  at  Pentecost, 
giving  also  to  the  body,  as  a  companion  in  these  sufferings,  some  lawful 
comfort.  From  that  hour  forward,  she  was  also  permitted  to  drink  some 
wine  every  Thursday  evening  in  memory  of  the  most  sacred  Eucharist. 
Likewise,  having  desired  and  often  asked  our  Lord  not  to  grant  her 
so  manifest  and  frequent  supernatural  favors,  that  she  might  not  ap 
pear  to  be  an  object  of  admiration  and  singularity,  she  understood  in 
this  ecstasy,  that  in  future  she  would  be  less  favored  exteriorly  with 
them  than  she  had  been  before  her  probation.  At  the  same  time,  her 
soul  would  be  even  more  strongly  united  to  God,  in  such  a  manner 
though,  as  not  to  prevent  her  from  working  and  conversing,  except 
on  the  three  days  of  Pentecost,  when  God  wanted  her  all  to  Himself.  On 
the  first  day,  that  she  might  rejoice  and  feast  in  God  alone  for  the 
victories  obtained  over  the  devils  during  the  five  years  past ;  on  the  other 
two  days,  that  she  might  hear  what  the  Divine  Will  demanded  of  her 
for  the  future.  Here  her  interview  with  the  mother  prioress  ended. 

When  the  evening  came,  she  quickly  hid  herself  in  her  little  room, 
where,  instead  of  taking  rest,  she  passed  the  night  in  prayer  till  the  sign 
of  matin,  at  which,  going  to  the  choir,  she  recited  there  the  divine  office 
with  the  other  sisters,  till  the  Te  Deum.  This  being  commenced,  she 
was  rapt  in  ecstasy,  and  the  Lord,  by  means  of  St.  Angel o  the  Carmelite, 
revealed  to  her  that  He  would  keep  her  in  the  state  of  grace  and 
strengthen  the  powers  of  her  soul  and  the  senses  of  her  body,  so  that  she 
might  use  them  only  in  honor  of  God  and  in  the  service  of  her  neighbor. 
She  then  saw  in  her  imagination,  and  even  somewhat  sensibly,  that 
the  above  Saint  first  anointed  her  eyes,  and  then  her  ears,  mouth,  hands, 
and  feet,  and  afterwards  purified  and  strengthened  her  soul  with  the  blood 
of  Jesus,  for  which  she  said:  " Lavit  animam  meam  in  sartguine  Sponsi 
met."  From  this  vision  she  drew  great  strength  and  much  knowledge. 
God  granted  her  particularly  this  most  remarkable  grace — for  which  she 
so  ardently  wished — that  in  future  she  would  consider  every  person  as 
just  and  holy;  and  never  would  she  judge  them  otherwise,  no  matter 
what  fault  she  might  perceive  in  them.  If  the  sin  were  so  manifest  as 
to  admit  of  no  doubt,  she  would  have  the  grace  of  excusing  the  intention ; 
and  if  the  very  intention  appeared  evidently  bad,  she  would  blame  the 
violence  of  the  malign  tempter  for  it,  whose  snares  no  mortal  can  wholly 
escape.  "  If  anyone,"  she  said  during  the  sair.e  rapture,  " shall  come  to 
tell  me  of  any  fault  of  my  neighbor,  I,  my  Lord,  will  not  listen,  but  will 
tell  her  decidedly  that  she  should  pray  for  her  neighbor  and  myself,  that  I 
may  correct  myself  first ;  and  of  the  faulty  deeds  witnessed  by  me,  rather 
than  speak  to  others,  I  will  advise  the  delinquent  herself;  as,  otherwise, 
instead  of  remedying  the  faults,  many  more  are  committed,  and  some 
times  greater  ones  than  those  of  which  we  speak."  Her  spirit  of  charity 
made  her  earnestly  express  the  desire  for  the  salvation  of  all  souls,  includ 
ing  those  of  heretics  and  infidels,  and  that  all  creatures  would  love  one 
another.  Having  thus  entered  the  ecstasy  at  the  hour  when  she  was 
wont  yearly  to  receive  the  Holy  Ghost,  she  began  with  loving  and 
entreating  expressions  to  invoke  the  same  Divine  Spirit;  and  then, 


remaining  for  a  while  in  silence,  her  face  became  at  once  wonderfully 
beautiful,  her  eyes  shone  with  the  most  fervid  joy,  and,  with  a  voice  of 
contentment,  she  repeatedly  exclaimed:  "Behold,  He  comes  down!" 
Showing  that  the  Divine  Spirit,  in  then  visiting  her  soul,  delivered  her 
from  the  stormy  lake  of  infernal  peril,  and  gave  her  back  the  feeling 
of  grace,  communicating  to  her,  as  an  ample  reward,  His  celestial  ardon 
In  the  excess  of  her  joy,  she  uttered  some  passages  of  Holy  Writ,  as : 
"  Eripuit  me  de  manibus  inimicorum  meorum,  et  ipsi  confiisi  sunt " — 
uHe  delivered  me  from  the  hand  of  my  enemies  (Ps.  xvii,  18)  .  .  . 
and  "they  have  been  confounded"  (Ps.  lii,  6).  "Transivi  per  ignem 
et  aquam,  et  eduxisti  me  in  refrigerium  " — u  I  have  passed  through  fire 
and  water, and  Thou  hast  brought  me  out  into  a  refreshment"  (Ps.  Ixv,  12). 
She  then  saw  the  devils  holding  records  of  the  faults  into  which 
she  had  fallen  during  these  five  years,  and  she  said :  ' ( These  most 
ferocious  beasts  hold  in  their  hands  old  papers,  thinking  to  return  with 
them  to  their  chief  devil  to  tell  him  of  some  great  gain ;  but  my  patron 
Saints  take  and  tear  them,  as  everything  is  purified  by  the  blood  of  my 
Jesus.  They  are  more  grievously  tormented  by  what  they  had  thought 
would  be  a  conquest,  but  they  return  without  any  victory.  Who  will 
understand,  O  my  Lord,  that  what  I  thought  to  be  an  offense  is  not  an 
offense,  but  a  joy  and  glory  to  my  soul  ?  Only  he  who  experiences  it. 
But  now  an  idle  word  will  be  for  me  a  more  serious  thing  than  what 
before  seemed  to  me  a  grievous  offense  against  God,  because  I  enjoy 
more  liberty  and  can  say  :  *  Servite  Domino  in  timore,  et  exultate  ei  cum 
tremor e ' — *  Serve  ye  the  Lord  with  fear  :  and  rejoice  unto  Him  with 
trembling'  "  (Ps.  ii,  n).  Here,  turning  to  the  mother  prioress  and  to 
her  mistress,  and  joining  and  pressing  with  her  own  the  hands  of  both, 
she  told  them,  with  a  feeling  of  real  gladness :  u  It  came  and 
has  passed  away  (that  is,  the  time  of  probation) :  help  me,  therefore, 
to  thank  and  magnify  my  God."  After  this  she  recovered  from 
her  rapture,  and,  having  partaken  of  the  Eucharistic  Bread  and 
heard  the  Holy  Mass,  went  through  some  community  acts  with  the 
sisters,  and  then  took  her  repast.  When  just  out  of  the  refectory, 
she  was  again  alienated  from  her  senses,  and  saw  in  spirit  a  great  light, 
in  the  midst  of  which  were  her  fourteen  patron  Saints,  who,  being 
divided  into  seven  pairs,  were  in  a  wonderful  manner  making  a  glorious 
procession.  She  named  them  in  the  following  order:  St.  Thomas 
Aquinas  and  St.  Agnes ;  St.  John  the  Evangelist  and  St.  Mary  Magda 
len  the  Penitent;  St.  John  the  Baptist  and  St.  Catherine,  Virgin  and 
Martyr;  St.  Stephen  and  St.  Catherine  of  Siena;  St.  Francis  and  St. 
Clara;  St.  Augustine  and  St.  Angelo  the  Carmelite;  St.  Michael 
Archangel  and  her  own  Guardian  Angel ;  who  were  all  going  to  the 
Eternal  Father,  and  were  drawing  precious  gifts  from  His  bosom,  and 
coming  back  with  them,  in  behalf  of  Jesus,  to  adorn  her  and  reward 
her  for  the  pains  she  had  endured  during  the  five  years  of  her  probation. 
But  as  she  always,  and  especially  during  that  time,  had  lived  m  great 
fear  of  having  in  many  things  offended  God,  moved  at  once  by  surprise 
and  joy,  she  said:  "  O  my  God  !  it  looks  as  if  Thou  wouldst  reward  me 
in  some  way  for  the  offenses  I  have  offered  Thee,  as  it  seems  to  me  that 
I  have  done  nothing  else  but  offend  Thee ;  but  yes,  yes:  Thou  knowest 

102  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS  OF 

everything. "  In  the  meantime,  as  she  related,  those  Saints,  approaching, 
adorned  her  with  those  rich  gifts  drawn  from  the  bosom  of  the  Eternal 
Father.  St.  Thomas  Aquinas  and  St.  Agnes  placed  on  her  head  a  beau 
tiful  crown,  on  which  was  written:  Tu  videbis  ("Thou  shalt  see"),  on 
the  right;  and  Jugum  meum  super  te  est  ("  My  yoke  is  upon  thee"),  on 
the  left,  which  yoke  meant  the  satisfaction  of  the  Word  in  all  His  brides. 
In  receiving  this  crown,  she  made  an  outward  motion,  as  if  she  had  fixed 
a  garland  on  her  head,  and  pronounced  these  words:  u  The  crown  you 
now  give  me  will  not  prevent  me  from  wearing  that  of  thorns  (given  to 
her  by  the  Lord  five  years  previously);  nay,  I  hope,  it  will  be  a  greater 
ornament  to  the  same."  Then  St.  John  the  Evangelist  and  St.  Mary 
Magdalen  the  Penitent  gave  her  a  necklace,  on  which  was  written:  Tu 
videbis,  on  the  right;  Verita,  Mansuetudine  ("  Truth  and  meekness"), 
on  the  left.  St.  John  the  Baptist  and  St.  Catherine,  Virgin  and  Martyr, 
clothed  her  with  a  pure  white  habit,  which  on  the  breast  bore  the  face  of 
Jesus  wonderfully  painted,  on  the  right  a  pomegranate,  on  the  left  a  lily 
with  three  little  bells.  St.  Stephen  and  St.  Catherine  of  Siena  adorned 
her  with  bracelets  on  which  three  eyes  were  engraved,  which  signified 
the  Providence,  the  Mercy,  and  the  Love  of  God.  St.  Francis  and  St. 
Clara  put  on  the  little  finger  of  her  left  hand  a  ring  formed  of  a  four- faced 
diamond;  on  one  face  was  written:  La  salute  (" The  salvation");  on 
the  second  Annichilazione  ("  Annihilation  ") ;  on  the  third  Individua  ed 
intrinseca  caritd,  ("Individual  and  intrinsic  charity");  on  the  fourth 
Poverth  ("  Poverty ").  St.  Augustine  and  St.  Angelo  surrounded  her 
with  a  fulgid  whiteness,  which,  covering  all,  occupied  no  space;  and  the 
top  of  it  represented  the  Crucifix.  Finally,  the  Archangel  St.  Michael 
and  her  Guardian  Angel  gave  her  a  sword.  Whilst  she  was  contemplat 
ing  with  indescribable  admiration  the  superhuman  beauty  of  these,  her 
patron  Saints,  and  delighting  in  seeing  herself  so  favored  by  them,  trans 
ported  by  an  excess  of  joy,  she  began  to  dance  writh  the  greatest  agility 
coupled  with  equal  modesty ;  and  it  seemed  to  her  that  the  Saints  at  the 
same  time  were  celebrating  with  celestial  melody,  in  union  with  her,  the 
victories  that  the  Lord  had  granted  her.  Having  somewhat  subdued 
this  great  exultation,  standing  still,  and  with  a  firm  voice,  she  said:  <l  I 
wish  to  go  to  all  those  places  where  my  adversary  tried  to  harm  me,  in 
order  to  confound  him  and  all  his  duplicities."  In  fact,  being  still 
ecstatic,  she  went  through  all  those  parts  of  the  monastery  where  she 
had  been  attacked  by  the  devil,  and  stopping  particularly  at  one  place 
where  the  fight  had  been  more  obstinate,  dancing  and  singing,  she  began 
to  mock  the  enemy,  saying  these  words  :  "  In  spite  of  thee,  I  will  keep 
the  feast  on  the  day  of  my  Lord ;  I  will  laugh  at  thee  before  Him,  and 
will  throw  myself  at  His  feet."  Having  knelt  there  for  a  moment,  she 
rose  to  her  feet,  continuing  in  a  tone  of  sweet  song :  "  In  all  that  hap 
pened  to  me,  O  devils,  before  my  God,  to  your  torment,  I  will  glory,  and 
I  will  make  of  it  a  crown  to  put  on  my  head,  and  before  Him  I  will 
humble  myself."  Again  throwing  herself  on  her  knees,  in  an  act  of 
adoration,  soon  afterward  she  arose,  and  continued:  "  O  horrible,  infernal 
beasts !  Brawl  and  roar  as  much  as  you  like  ;  my  soul  will  think  no 
more  of  you  than  of  a  butterfly,  but  will  thank  my  God  for  this  great 
gift."  In  another  place,  which  was  also  remarkable  for  the  vexations 

She  receives  the  Holy  Infant  into  her  arms  from  the  hands  of  the 
Blessed  Virgin  (page  86). 


wliicli  Satan  made  her  endure,  she  sang  the  words  of  St.  Paul :  ' '  Quis  nos 
separabit  a  charitate  Chris  ti?  tribulatio,  au  angustia,  au  fames?" — 
"  Who  shall  separate  us  from  the  love  of  Christ?  Shall  tribulation?  or 
distress?  or  famine?"  (Rom.  viii,  35).  " Nemo  poterit  me  separare  a 
charitate  Christi" — "  No  creature  shall  be  able  to  separate  me  from  the 
charity  of  Christ"  (Ibid.,  39).  Omnia  arbitratus  sum  ut  stercora,  ut 
Christum  lucrifaciam  " — "  I  have  counted  all  things  but  as  dung,  that  I 
may  gain  Christ''  (Philip,  iii,  8).  Then  strengthening  her  confidence, 
she  said  with  the  holy  prophet:  "Dominus  illuminatio  mea  et  salus  mea, 
quern  timebo?" — u  The  Lord  is  my  light  and  my  salvation,  whom  shall  I 
fear  ?  "  Finally,  going  to  the  choir,  before  the  altar  of  the  Blessed  Virgin, 
she  offered  herself  to  her,  with  these  expressions  :  "  O  most  pure  Mary,  I 
offer  and  give  myself  to  thee,  not  only  with  the  purity  and  innocence  I 
received  when  I  consecrated  myself  to  thee,  but  with  that  innocence  more 
adorned  and  purified.  Receive  me,  then,  O  Mary,  and  keep  me  in  thy 
care."  After  this  offering  she  came  to  herself  from  her  ecstasy,  which  was 
so  extraordinary  and  delightful,  and  had  been  witnessed  by  nearly  all  the 
nuns,  who  ran  to  share  in  the  joy  of  their  wonderful  sister,  then  so  tri 
umphantly  freed  from  diabolical  vexations  which  had  been  so  lasting  and 
frightful.  They  could  not,  from  the  feeling  of  affection,  of  complaisance, 
and,  I  will  add,  from  their  own  mortification,  restrain  their  tears  at  the 
sight  of  this  angelic  soul,  sending  forth  from  her  countenance,  and 
especially  her  eyes,  the  most  ardent  sparks  of  paradise.  Having  then 
returned  to  herself,  she  and  the  nuns  reciprocally  proffered  acts  of  benevo 
lence,  forgiveness,  and  esteem,  and  all  most  gladly  returned  to  God  sin 
cere  praises  and  thanksgiving. 

On  the  following  morning,  the  second  feast  of  the  Holy  Ghost, 
after  Holy  Communion,  the  Mass  being  nearly  over,  God  sensibly  called 
Mary  Magdalen,  who,  answered  thrice — "  Ecce  adsum  " — and  was  again 
absorbed  in  ecstasy,  in  which  she  understood  how,  in  future,  as  a  reward 
for  enduring  the  horrible  sight  of  the  devils  for  the  five  years  past, 
she  would  have  always  before  the  eyes  of  her  mind  the  presence  of  His 
Divine  Majesty.  Jesus  appearing  to  her,  she  was  immediately  filled 
with  unutterable  joy ;  and,  looking  steadily  at  Him,  began  to  say  :  O  my 
Spouse  (as  I  must  so  call  Thee),  the  sight  of  the  devil  is  very 
horrible  but  Thine  is  incomparably  more  delightful,  for  Thou  art,  as 
the  prophet  said  :  "  Speciosus  forma  prcz  filiis  hominum."  And  as  in 
the  past  there  was  no  time  or  place  in  which  I  had  not  to  suffer  the 
frightful  sight  of  those  malign  spirits,  so  now,  walking,  standing,  work 
ing,  and  talking,  I  shall  always  see  Thee,  O  my  Beloved.  As  they  besides 
showed  themselves  to  my  mental  view,  and  sometimes  also  appeared 
under  various  forms  to  my  corporal  eyes,  so  Thou  also  wilt  be  present 
not  only  to  my  mind,  but  also  to  the  eyes  of  my  body  to  make  me 
rejoice  and  exult  the  more."  And  Jesus  asking  her,  then,  in  what 
form  she  preferred  to  see  Him,  she  added  :  "As  Thou  art  one  God  m 
three  Persons,  therefore  I  will  be  well  pleased  to  see  Thee  m  three 
forms,  viz.,  as  Thou  wast  when  Thou  didst  dwell  m  Egypt,  that  is,  m 
Thy  Infancy ;  then  as  Thou  wast  when  Thy  Mother  lost  Thee  in  the 
temple  ;  finally,  as  in  the  days  of  Thy  Passion."  No  sooner  had  she  said 
these  words  than  her  wish  was  gratified.  The  Divine  Redeemer  showed 

104  THE    LIKE   AND   WORKS   OF 

Himself  to  her,  first,  as  Pie  was  in  His  Infancy  ;  and  she,  all  joyous,  thus 
expressed  to  Him  the  loving  sentiments  of  her  heart:  u  Oh  !  behold  my 
little  Infant  just  at  the  age  of  three  or  four  years  ;  oh !  how  beautiful 
Thou  art !  Thy  beautiful  eyes,  so  cheerful  and  smiling,  and  at  the 
same  time  so  thoughtful  and  grave :  Thy  head  encircled  by  a  garland  of 
flowers,  the  fragrance  of  which  draws  one  to  embrace  Thee ;  Thy 
tender  hands  adorned  with  three  most  beautiful  rings.  Oh!  what  a 
wonderful  thing !  Thou  art  little,  and  yet  art  God  ;  but  thy  littleness 
makes  me  know  Thy  greatness.  O  greatness  and  littleness  of  my  God  ! 
I  could  never  satiate  myself  looking  at  Thee.  O  little  and  great  God, 
so  beautiful  and  attractive  !  I  fear  that  Thy  beautiful  aspect  may  make 
me  rejoice  so  that  I  may  show  it  exteriorly  also."  Shortly  after,  seeing 
Jesus  as  in  His  youth,  she  continued  thus :  "  Oh  !  behold  my  Spouse, 
who  shows  Himself  to  me  just  at  the  age  of  twelve,  when  He  was  confound 
ing  the  doctors  in  the  temple.  What  an  admirable  countenance  !  how  a 
meek  gravity  shines  in  it !  His  eyes  are  not  turned  to  the  earth,  nor  to 
heaven,  but  He  is  all  recollected  within  Himself,  to  teach  His  bride  that 
she  must  not  look  to  the  earth,  as  she  must  have  already  overcome  all 
the  things  therein  to  be  found  ;  and  that  she  must  not  look  to  heaven 
neither,  in  order  not  to  forget  her  co-operation  on  behalf  of  creatures ;  but, 
looking  at  herself,  she  must  acknowledge  the  vileness  of  the  body  and 
despise  it;  the  greatness  and  dignity  of  souls,  and  procure,  with  all 
her  might,  their  salvation  and  perfection.  This  gentle  Youth  has,  in 
His  right  hand,  a  book,  not  suitable  for  a  tyro,  but  for  the  learned  and 
wise,  in  which  He  wants  me  to  study  in  recompense  for  the  time  of  my 
affliction  and  darkness.  In  His  left  hand  He  has  a  harp,  with  which  to 
accompany  the  hymns  of  love.  Oh !  what  a  sweet  melody  !  Oh !  how  good 
the  Lord  is  to  the  souls  who  seek  Him  alone  ! "  Having  become  silent 
for  a  while,  she  then  went  to  kneel  before  the  altar  of  the  Blessed  Virgin ; 
and,  it  being  already  the  hour  when  she  usually  received  the  Holy  Ghost, 
she  begged  of  the  Divine  Spirit  to  communicate  Himself  to  her  as  well 
as  to  all  the  Religious  of  her  monastery.  She  did  not  have  to  pray 
long,  for  a  short  while  after  she  saw  how  the  Spirit  was  received  by  the 
many  under  the  form  of  a  common  ray,  and  by  herself  under  that  of  a 
loving  dart,  which  made  her  feel  a  new  ardor  of  heavenly  flame.  In 
the  meantime  she  came  to  herself  from  her  rapture  ;  and,  having  restored 
her  body  with  some  food,  was  again  alienated  from  her  senses  and  then 
she  saw  Jesus  in  the  third  manner  in  which  she  wished  to  see  Him.  Look 
ing  at  Him  in  that  immovable  attitude  which  is  characteristic  of  one  who  is 
struck  with  the  highest  amazement,  she  said  to  Him:  UO  my  Jesus,  in  Thy 
full  manhood  shall  I  see  Thee,  when  I  am  working,  when  praising  Thee, 
and  when  toiling  in  all  places  but  in  those  in  which  I  have  to  regard  Thee 
as  an  infant  and  as  a  youth.  I  will  see  Thee  in  that  beautiful  and  graceful 
age,  in  which  Thou  didst  leave  Thyself  as  food  and  suffered  the  most 
cruel  passion.  I  will  delight  very  much  in  regarding  Thee  as  Thou 
didst  show  Thyself  to  me  now,  sitting  at  the  fountain  (the  Well  of 
Samaria),  asking  questions  and  enlightening  the  people.  Yes,  O  my 
God,^  at  the  fountain,  because  I  must  give  glory  to  Thee  alone,  the 
unfailing  Fountain  of  all  good.  <  Non  nobis,  Domine,  non  nobis^— 
'Not  to  us,  O  Lord,  not  to  us '  (Ps.  cxiii,  i).  I  might  go  through  many 


places  mentally,  as  Thou  didst  do  so  much  during  that  time ;  but  I 
prefer  to  stop  with  Thee  at  the  fountain,  and  sometimes  I  will  also 
anoint  Thee  as  Magdalen  did.  Charity  to  my  neighbor  shall  be  the 
ointment.  The  tears  with  which  I  shall  wash  Thy  holy  feet  will  be 
that  charity  described  by  St.  Paul,  which  consists  in  weeping  with  those 
who  weep,  and  rejoicing  with  those  who  rejoice.  The  hair,  which  is 
regarded  as  an  almost  superfluous  thing,  will  be  represented  by  the  con 
descension  that  a  soul,  thinking  highly  of  Thee,  must  use  in  adapting 
herself  to  the  frailty  and  littleness  of  her  neighbors.  And  still,  looking 
on  Thee  at  the  fountain,  I  see  Thou  hast  a  cross  at  Thy  right  to  show 
that  though  the  intense  suffering  of  my  soul,  known  to  Thee,  is  ended, 
neverthless  another  cross  will  be  left  to  me,  which  consists  in  seeing  that 
Thou  art  neither  loved  nor  understood,  and  that  Thy  will  is  not  exe 
cuted.  Thou  hast  written  in  Thy  hands  all  the  words  (she  meant  the 
works) ;  and  how  can  this  be  that  Thou  takest  words  for  works  ? 
Ah !  yes,  I  understand  ;  because  Thou  rewardest  more  a  fervent  desire 
of  doing  a  work  when  one  cannot  do  it,  than  the  work  itself  when  done 
without  the  desire;  and  if  Thy  work  is  not  accomplished,  it  is  not 
because  there  will  not  be  Thy  will,  but  because  there  is  no  disposition 
in  creatures,  and  there  are  no  generous  hearts  to  make  such  beginning 
as  would  be  necessary."  After  a  brief  silence,  returning  to  the  under 
standing  of  what  the  L,ord  required  of  her,  according  to  the  order  of  the 
life  of  the  Incarnate  Word,  and  having  begun  at  the  morning  of  His 
infancy  and  gone  through  all  His  life,  it  was  noticed  that  she  entered 
the  passion,  Jesus  showing  to  her,  under  various  forms,  what  He  wanted 
her  to  accomplish  in  herself;  hence  she  spoke  thus:  "When  I  shall  be 
tired  of  my  labors,  I  will  have  medicine  and  food  with  which  to  nourish 
myself;  and  it  will  be  a  chalice  of  blood,  which  is  the  passion  of  my  Word. 
If  Thou  wert  only  a  martyr,  O  my  God,  I  would  deem  suitable  to  Thee 
what  I  now  see  on  Thy  breast;  but  Thou  art  even  the  head  of  the 
martyrs,  and  Thou  dost  this  for  my  instruction.  My  Spouse  has  a  palm 
on  His  breast — of  which  the  leaves  and  centre  are  somewhat  black,  but 
the  extremity  is  green — to  teach  me  that  the  beginning  and  root  of  all 
my  works  must  be  to  do  them  according  to  God's  will  ;  and  they  must 
be  done  also  with  some  fear,  which  is  signified  by  the  black  around  the 
leaver, ;  but  it  must  be  a  filial  fear.  The  black  in  the  centre  indicates 
that,  according  to  my  ability,  I  must  see  not  only  that  my  works  are 
according  to  God's  will,  but  conformable  to  the  just  who  live  on  earth, 
as  the  will  of  all  just  travelers  can  only  be  but  one  with  God's.  The 
extremity  is  all  green,  because  these  works  must  be  performed  with  confi 
dence.  I  see  my  God  with  His  head  not  covered  with  blood,  but  rather, 
as  the  prophet  said,  '  Sicut  unguentum  in  capite,  quod  descendit  in  bar- 
bam,  barbam  Aaron ' — '  Like  the  precious  ointment  on  the  head,  that 
ran  down  upon  the  beard,  the  beard  of  Aaron.'  (Ps.  cxxxii,  2).  Every 
hair  has  its  drop,  which  does  not  wait  for  the  other ;  and  as  soon  as  the 
first  one  drops,  it  provokes  the  second,  and  this  the  third,  and  the  third 
the  next :  so  great  is  the  abundance  of  dew  on  His  head.  The  drops  are 
nothing  but  the  knowledge  and  intelligence  which  God  imparts  to  the 
soul,  and  out  of  which  one  draws  the  other,  as  by  accepting  one  and 
making  it  bring  forth  fruit,  God  is  induced  to  give  more,  and,  continu- 

106  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

ing  in  the  faithful  correspondence,  one  obtains  the  whole  perfection. 
The  head  of  my  God  is  also  like  a  small  cloud,  which  draws  to  itself 
the  water  already  fallen,  to  again  moisten  the  earth  with  it  ;  He 
gathers  the  fruit  and  the  work  which  the  soul  has  done  with  the  intel 
ligence  communicated  to  her,  to  re-infuse  into  the  same  new  gifts  and 
new  graces.  I  do  not  know,  my  L,ord,  whether  to-day  Thou  wilt  show 
me  all  the  things  Thou  hast  created.  He  has  two  tongues  on  His 
sacred  shoulders  ;  one  of  which  is  the  praise  of  God,  the  other  one  is 
charity ;  and  both  speak  out  at  one  time.  Here  I  must  pay  attention 
and  see  which  one  speaks  louder,  and  listen  to  that,  but  so  as  not 
to  prevent  my  hearing  the  other.  If  I  occupy  myself  in  some  practice 
of  chanty,  or  of  Religion,  I  must  be,  in  desire,  praising  Thee,  and  never 
leave  Thy  praise  to  attend  to  myself;  but  if  I  am  praising  Thee,  I  must 
not  be,  except  by  loving  affection,  helping  my  neighbor.  I  must  fore 
see  well  whether  I  can  practice  charity  before  or  after'  praising  Thee. 
But  if  I  see  that  by  delaying  some  practice  of  charity,  or  of  Religion, 
I  may  cause  scandal  and  trouble  to  my  neighbor,  I  must  rather  delay 
the  praise  of  God  than  become  a  stumbling-block  to  the  salvation  of 
the  souls  of  others.  Thus  shall  I  hear  both  voices  without  preventing 
the  hearing  of  the  one  through  hearing  the  other.  Thy  Word  holds  in 
His  left  hand  a  little  bell,  by  which  He  wants  me  to  understand  that  I 
must  invite  His  brides  to  the  perfection  to  which  they  are  called  :  He 
wants  this  little  bell  to  give  a  penetrating  sound,  but  without  noise, 
because  I  must  admonish  and  speak  with  sweetness  and  meekness,  and 
never  with  severity  of  expression  or  manner,  as  a  sweet  and  meek 
speech  does  better  than  a  harsh  and  severe  one.  He  holds  this  little 
bell  in  the  left  hand,  as  that  is  the  side  where  the  heart  is,  to  show  me 
that  the  words  I  speak  must  proceed  from  the  heart,  that  is,  from  a 
heartfelt  love  of  God  and  my  neighbor,  and  that  I  must  say  nothing 
except  what  I  myself  have  first  practiced.  In  His  right  hand  my  Spouse 
holds  a  dial ;  and  yet  Thou  art  God  !  but  for  me  Thou  boldest  this  time 
keeper  with  two  faces ;  on  one  side  is  the  sun,  on  the  other  the  moon.  The 
timekeeper  denotes  to  me  that  I  must  measure  time  so  that  reward  and 
salvation  may  not  have  to  be  measured  to  me  ;  for  to  him  who  measures 
not  the  time,  the  reward  is  measured,  that  is,  he  will  not  be  given  much 
of  it :  a  small  thing  is  easily  measured.  The  moon  engraved  on  one 
side  shows  me  the  changeableness  of  earthly  and  transitory  things, 
which  we  should  esteem  as  such.  The  sun  engraved  on  the  other  side 
represents  to  me  the  constant  and  entire  perfection  of  celestial  things, 
and  of  God,  for  whom  and  in  whom  I  must  give  every  thought,  desire, 
and  affection.  In  the  same  hand  He  holds  a  scale,  to  teach  me  that 
I  must  do  everything  thoughtfully,  or  with  prudence  ;  and  He  also  holds 
with  both  hands  a  very  rich  sceptre,  entirely  of  gold  and  adorned  with 
most  precious  stones.  What  else  is  this  sceptre,  O  soul,  but  the  honor 
and  glory  due  to  God  in  all  things?  The  stones  set  in  it  signify 
taking  delight  in  all  that  God  delights  in.  He  delights  in  the  creature, 
in  His  power,  goodness,  mercy,  and  all  His  other  divine  perfections ; 
and  the  soul  must  do  likewise.  He  holds  this  sceptre  with  both  hands, 
as  the  glory  to  be  given  Him  must  proceed  from  the  love  of  God  and  our 
neighbor.  This  God  of  mine  has  under  His  feet  a  crown  that  looks 


golden,  but  is  not ;  under  the  crown  are  some  lilies,  under  these  the 
devils.  The  crown  is  nothing  but  the  glory  and  the  honors  of  the  world; 
the  lilies  are  the  sensual  pleasures,  which,  together  with  the  devil  and 
the  wicked  flesh,  must  be  kept  under  foot  and  trampled  on.  My  Jesus, 
I  understand  not  why  Thou  appearest  to  shut  Thy  eyes,  unless  Thou 
enlighten  me  in  regard  to  it.  By  that  He  wants  to  teach  the  Bride-soul 
that  she  must  shut  her  eyes  and  almost  fall  asleep,  in  order  not 
to  feel  the  temptations  of  her  passions,  which  are  within,  and 
which  are  like  little  children  who,  when  they  want  anything,  make 
so  much  ado,  with  tears,  or  sweet  smiles,  or  otherwise,  until  they 
get  it.  Our  passions  often  overcome  us,  either  by  fear,  or  by  love,  or  by 
other  innumerable  emotions ;  but  the  soul  must  be  asleep  to  them  and 
shut  every  opening  of  sensibility  against  them,  raising  herself  above 
them  and  approaching  God.  And,  after  having  done  these  things  and 
many  more,  she  must  call  and  intimately  believe  herself  an  unworthy 
servant,  and  unable  to  do  any  good  action.  Finally,  my  God  gives 
me  three  most  worthy  queens,  with  their  suites,  for  if  they  were 
unaccompanied  their  dignity  and  greatness  would  not  be  known.  He 
wants  me  always  to  follow  in  their  footsteps,  that  I  may  not  lose  the 
road  which  leads  me  to  Him,  my  Beloved.  These  are  three  most  worthy 
virtues,  in  which  I  must  always  exercise  myself;  that  is,  charity,  mercy 
and  purity,  or  truth  and  righteousness,  as  I  may  call  it,  together  with 
the  suite  of  holy  humility,  as  the  virtues  which  are  not  accompanied  by 
humility  cannot  be  truly  called  virtues,  and  are  of  no  value  before  God 
or  for  the  soul." 

Here  she  became  silent  for  a  good  length  of  time  ;  and  then,  recom 
mending  all  creatures  to  God,  came  to  herself  from  her  ecstasy,  in  which 
she  had  been  about  twenty-one  hours.  With  such  bountiful  reward  of 
celestial  graces  and  superhuman  knowledge  did  God  immediately  re  ward 
the  sufferings  of  five  years,  endured  with  such  an  heroic  constancy  and 
generosity  by  the  noble  and  holy  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi. 

Let  us  here  remark,  once  for  all :  She  spoke  Latin,  quoted  and 
applied  the  texts  of  the  Holy  Scriptures  with  as  much  skill  as  if  she 
were  a  profound  theologian.  We  have  had,  so  far,  some  proofs  of  it, 
and  shall  have  more  in  abundance  as  we  proceed  to  relate  her  achieve 
ments.  Behold,  therefore,  a  new  argument  to  prove  that  her  spirit  was 
of  God ;  for,  uninstructed  by  human  means  in  this  language,  and  much 
less  instructed  in  the  knowledge  of  biblical  texts,  she  could  not  use  the 
former  and  quote  the  latter  so  easily  and  adroitly,  unless  by  the  help  of 
Him  who,  animating  the  clay  by  His  simple  breath,  and  forming  of  it  as 
great  a  number  of  vessels  as  there  are  individuals  in  all  human-kind, 
sometimes  infuses  His  wisdom  into  the  weakest  of  them,  that  the  strong, 
not  to  himself,  but  to  the  Divine  Source  alone,  may  return  the  honor 
and  the  glory  of  every  good  thing. 

108  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 



JHEN  any  nun  of  her  monastery  shut  her  eyes  to  time, 
to  open  them  in  eternity,  she  recommended  her  to  God 
with  prayers  so  pressing,  that  often,  being  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
God  favored  her  by  showing  her  the  state  of  that  soul. 
This  also  happened  in  regard  to  the  souls  of  some  per 
sons  unknown  to  her,  for  whom  she  was  praying  to  God 
at  another's  request.  She  knew  so  well  their  state,  that, 
comparing  her  manifestation  with  what  these  persons  had 
done  during  life,  there  was  no  doubt  left  of  her  being  inspired  of  God. 

FROM  PURGATORY. — The  first  soul  known  by  her  while  in   this   life, 
to  be  in  purgatory,   was  her  brother's,  as  we  related  in  Chapter  XV. 
Through  her  most  fervent  prayers,  her  brother  soon  obtained  deliverance 
from  that  painful  prison,  and  she  learned  the  kno wledge  of  their  efficacy, 
so  that,  turning  her  mind  to  him,  she  then  pronounced  these  words : 
"  Happy  thou,  O  beloved  brother,  as  thou  wilt  soon  be  called  to  eternal 
bliss,  and,  though  great  and  unutterable  are  the  pains,  still  they  are  not 
equal  to  the  future  inexpressible  and  incomprehensible  glory  prepared 
for  thee  in  heaven." 

HEAVEN. — On   the  3d  of  February,   1588,  whilst  alienated  from   her 
senses,  it  was  given  her  to  see  the  soul  of  a  sister  of  her  monastery,  who, 
sixteen  days  after  she  had  passed  out  of  this  life,  was  going  gloriously 
into  heaven ;  and  she  understood  that  for  three  particular  reasons  she 
had  been  detained  during  that  time  in  the  pains  of  purgatory :     First, 
because  on  festival-days  (as  she  was  very  skillful  in  handiwork)  she  had 
done  something   not   altogether    necessary ;    secondly,    because,    as   a 
senior  mother  of  that  religious  family,   she  failed  once,  through  human 
respect,  to  notify  the  superiors  of  something  which  she  felt  she  ought 
to  make  known  for  the  welfare  of  the  monastery ;  thirdly,  because  she 
was   too   much  attached  to  her  relatives.     Those   who  preside  over  a 
family,  either  religious  or  lay,  private  or  public,  should  not  fail  to  apply 
to  themselves  the  second  case,  whence  it  appears  that  they  must  receive 
with  affability,  gratitude,  and   efficacious   determination  any  judicious 


person  who  may  reach  their  hearts  by  the  voice  of  truth  ;  but  they  are 
often  unable  to  hear  this  voice,  because  their  sensual  appetites  are  too 
well  fed,  they  are  too  puffed  up  by  vainglorious  complacency  and  too  much 
deceived  by  false  adulation.  It  is  the  will  of  God  that  the  great  man 
should  sometimes  be  advised  and  guided  by  the  inferior,  so  that,  through 
the  elevation  of  one  and  the  lowering  of  the  other,  the  human  parity  estab 
lished  by  the  eternal  law  may  remain  unalterable.  Immediately  were 
revealed  to  our  Saint  the  three  virtues  of  the  same  soul,  by  which  she 
understood  that  the  sufferings  of  purgatory  were  shortened  for  her: 
The  first  was  the  solicitous  care  with  which  she  always  had  en 
deavored  to  preserve  the  purity  and  simplicity  of  her  Religion ; 
the  second,  the  great  charity  which  she  practiced  for  all  the  sisters 
during  life ;  the  third,  having  always  taken  in  good  part  all  she 
saw  or  heard.  Therefore  our  Saint  saw,  afterwards,  that  this  happy 
soul,  purified  from  all  stains,  and  rich  in  merits,  was  going  to  enjoy  the 
Sovereign  Good,  accompanied  by  her  Guardian  Angel  and  St.  Miniato, 
Martyr,  who,  according  to  the  custom  of  the  monastery,  had  been 
appointed  her  protector  for  that  year.  At  such  a  sight  Magdalen  was 
filled  with  joy,  and  felt  an  ardent  desire  to  follow  that  soul,  in  order  to 
hasten  to  the  full  enjoyment  of  her  beloved  Spouse,  Jesus. 


On  the  5th  of  June  of  the  year  1589,  a  nun  died,  in  whose  behalf  St. 
Mary  Magdalen  had  performed  very  many  charitable  acts  during  her 
last  illness.  As  they  were  about  to  bury  the  body,  Magdalen  was  look 
ing  at  it  from  a  church  blind,  and  while  doing  so  she  was  rapt  in 
ecstasy,  and  saw  the  soul  of  her  fellow-sister  ascending  to  heaven  ;  hence 
she  said  :  "  Farewell,  sister  ;  adieu,  blessed  soul ;  thou  goest  to  paradise, 
like  a  pure  dove,  leaving  us  all  here  below.  Oh  !  how  glorious  and 
beautiful  thou  art !  And  who  could  recount  thy.  beauty  ?  How  short  a 
time  thou  hast  remained  in  the  flames!  Thy  body ^is  not  yet  buried, 
and  thy  soul  flies  to  the  glory  of  the  blessed.  Now  thou  dost  fully  un 
derstand  what  I  was  telling  thee  while  yet  on  earth,  viz.,  that  it  will 
seem  to  thee  as  if  thou  hadst  not  suffered  anything,  when  thy  sufferings 
are  compared  to  the  glory  that  Jesus  hath  prepared  for  thee  in  paradise." 
She  also  understood  then  that  that  sister  had  remained  but  fifteen  hours 
in  purgatory,  because  she  had  borne  with  great  patience  all  the  troubles 
she  encountered  during  life,  and  especially  the  very  great  pains  of  her 
last  illness.  As  soon  as  the  body  disappeared  from  the  view  of  those 
present,  Magdalen  returned  to  her  senses,  saying :  "  At  the  same  time 
that  they  give  burial  to  the  body,  the  soul  is  placed  forever  in  heaven." 

UNDERSTANDS  THE  REASON  FOR  IT. — Another  day  of  the  same  year, 
1589,  whilst  she  was  in  the  choir  praying,  the  soul  of  a  deceased  nun 
of  her  monastery  appeared  to  her,  covered  with  flames,  as  if  with  a 
mantle,  under  which  a  white  habit  was  apparent ;  and  in  that  condi 
tion    that   soul   adored    the  Kucharistic  Sacrament  in  deep  reverence. 
Magdalen,  asking  of   God  the  meaning  of   this,  understood  how   the 
white  habit  had  been  given  that  sister  for  having  preserved  her  virginity 

110  THE   UFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

inviolate  until  death ;  the  mantle  of  fire  which  covered  her  had  been 
given  to  her  in  punishment  for  some  faults  ;  and  she  was  ordered  to  stay 
before  the  Blessed  Sacrament  covered  with  that  mantle,  in  punishment 
for  having  several  times  during  life  omitted  Holy  Communion ;  and  that, 
just  for  this  neglect,  she  had  to  stay  every  day  for  one  hour  in  such 
adoration  till  she  had  wholly  atoned  for  the  fault,  after  which  she 
would  fly  up  to  heaven.  Accordingly  this  soul  was  seen  by  our  Saint, 
not  long  after,  going  to  the  bliss  of  eternal  rest. 

HER. — In  Advent  of  the  year  1590,  Maria  Buondelmonti  De-Pazzi,  the 
happy  mother  of  Magdalen,  paying  to  the  Author  of  nature  the  common 
tribute,  ended  her  life  of  edification,  of  love,  of  zeal,  and  of  sorrows. 
When  the  sad  news  reached  Magdalen,  she  said  she  knew  it  already,  as, 
when  her  mother  breathed  her  last,  she  felt  an  unusual  pain  in  her  heart 
and  a  strong  inclination  to  kneel  and  say  a  Requiem  ceternam  for  her 
mother's  soul.     This  she  did  not  do,  however,  as  she  was  in  the  presence 
of  many   nuns.     With  all  the  love    with   which   the   filial   sentiment 
inspired  her,  she  quickly  withdrew  to  give  vent  to  her  wishes  and  sup 
plications  for  the  salvation  of  this  soul,  rather  than  to  lamentations 
and  tears  for  the  loss  of  the  body.     In    the   meantime,  reciting   the 
Miserere,  she  was  rapt  in  ecstasy,  and  then  saw  in  purgatory  the  soul  of 
her  mother,  very  cheerful  and  contented,  as  though  little  children  were 
removing  the  flames  from  around  her,  and  the  tears  of  the  poor  who 
were  weeping  over  her  death  gave  her  great  relief  in  those  pains.     The 
little  children,  she  understood,  were  those  whom,  during  life,  she  had 
taught  and  led  in  the  way  of  the  Lord,  as  she  had  so  wisely  done  by 
word  and  example ;  the  tears  were  those  of  indigent  persons*  to  whom 
she  was  wont  to  distribute  help  in  the  true  spirit  of  charity.      Here,  her 
mother  disappearing,  her  Guardian  Angel  presented  himself  to  her  mind, 
and  from  him  she  understood  many  things  concerning  the  indescribable 
glory  of  paradise  prepared  for  the  merits  of  this  soul,  particularly  because 
of  her  works  of  charity,  not  so  much  exterior  as  interior,  on  behalf  of  her 
neighbors;  and  that  she  would  shortly  pass  to  enjoy  that  glory.     Mag 
dalen  said  to  the  angel  that  she  wished  to  possess  three  things  with  which 
her  mother  was  endowed :  her  great  righteousness,  her  prudence,  and 
her  tolerance  and  resignation,  by  which  she  preserved  her  equanimity, 
both  in  prosperous  and  in  adverse  circumstances.     After  these  petitions, 
she  came  to  herself  from  her  rapture,  and  then  continued  to  pray  daily 
for  the  hasty  deliverance  of  her  dearly  beloved  mother.     On  the  eve  of 
the  Nativity  of  the  Blessed  Virgin,  it  being  just  fifteen  days  since  her 
mother  had  departed  this  life,  she  understood,  in  a  new  ecstasy,  how  her 
soul  on  ^  the  morning  of  that   same   day,  at   the   hour   corresponding 
to  that  in  which  it  had  left  her  body,  had  flown  up  to  heaven ;  and 
she  saw  it,  all  joyful,  glancing  at  the  side  of  the  Word,  and  there  it 
stopped,  as  at  the  time  of  death  it  possessed  God  in  the  act  of  charity. 
She  had  already   seen   how   her   patron    Saints    had  carried    her   soul 
into  heaven  like  an  eagle,  how  St.  Catherine  adorned  it  with  a  habit 
of  blood,   St.  Agnes  with  various  flowers,  and    St.  John    the    Baptist 

The  Blessed  Virgin  puts  a  spotless  white  veil  on  her  (page  89). 


placed  on  her  head  a  crown,  at  which  she,  greatly  wondering,  being  still 
in  her  rapture,  uttered  these  words:  "  How  and  why  is  the  halo  placed 
011  thy  head  since  thou  hast  not  been  a  virgin,  nor  hast  thou  been  num 
bered  among  those  who  had  the  desire  of  virginity,  as  thou  hast  been 
satisfied  with  the  state  and  vocation  in  which  God  placed  thee?"  .  . 
She  then  understood  that  her  mother  had  merited  that  crown  for  her 
great  suffering,  especially  interior,  on  account  of  some  sad  causes,  which 
so  often  exist  in  the  case  of  those  who  are  obliged  to  live  in  contact  with 
society.  She  also  saw  how  the  Blessed  Virgin  embellished  that  soul  in 
different  ways,  because,  while  in  this  world,  she  held  her  name  in  great 
reverence  and  devotion,  to  her  own  great  advantage  and  profit.  Having 
then  remained  for  a  while  to  look  at  the  position  of  her  mother,  she  re 
ceived  from  her  the  three  following  counsels:  First,  that  she  should 
seek  the  highest  possible  degree  of  humility  ;  secondly,  that  she  should 
practice  obedience  with  exactitude ;  thirdly,  that  in  all  things  she 
should  use  prudence.  Thus  ended  the  ecstatic  vision  regarding  the  soul 
of  her  mother.  Some  days  after,  in  another  ecstasy,  God  showed  her 
in  heaven,  rich  in  glory,  the  soul  of  a  priest  she  had  known,  and  who, 
during  his  lifetime,  had  done  much  for  his  own  perfection  and  for  the 
eternal  salvation  of  others. 

DEMNED   TO   ETERNAL  TORMENTS. — In   the  year    1594,  on   the   22d 
of  December,   her  spirit  being  raised  above  her   senses,  she  saw  the 
soul  of  an  unhappy  man  at  the  moment  that  he  passed  from  his  death 
bed  to  the  eternal  torments.      God  revealed  to  her  that  the  chief  cause  of 
his  damnation  was  his  having  held  in  contempt  the  treasures  of  Holy 
Church,  laughing  at  the  indulgences  and  all  the  other  graces  the  Church 
benignly  imparts  to  her  faithful  children  ;  which  contempt  indicates  the 
depth  of  iniquity  into  which  a  wretched  man  may  fall.     Again,  after  a 
few  days,  having  reentered  an  ecstasy,  she  saw  the  soul  of  another  man 
surrounded  by  infernal  flames,  to  which  Divine  Justice  had  condemned 
him.      At  such  a  sight  Magdalen  grew  pale  and  became  -so  frightened 
that  she  nearly  fainted ;    and,  in  a  piteous  voice,  she  began  to  say  to 
him :  "  Unhappy  man  !     Thou  hast  become  a  firebrand  of  hell;  soon  thy 
pastimes  were  changed  into  horrible  and  everlasting  pains.".     And,  gaz 
ing  up  to  heaven,  she  continued :  "O  Eternal  God!  the  people  of  the 
world  do  not  meditate  well  on  these  things."     By  which  words,  and  the 
manner  of  her  uttering  them,  she  inspired  those  present  with  great  fear, 
and  she  was  left  so  depressed  by  the  awfulness  of  the  vision,  that  for 
several  days  she  was  unable  to  find  a  thought  that  would  restore  her  to 
tranquillity.     She  made  known  afterwards,  by  customary  obedience,  that 
God  had  granted  her  these  two  visions  that  she  and  her  companions,  the 
nuns  of  her  monastery,  might  be  more  inflamed  with  zeal  for  the  salva 
tion  of  souls,  and  try  to  appease  Divine  Justice  by  their  prayers  and 

day,  while  they  were  singing  vespers  in  the  choir,  she  was  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
and  the  Lord  showed  her  a  great  number  of  souls  falling  down,  like 

112  THE    LIKE    AND   WORKS   OK 

lightning,  into  hell ;  and  having  asked  of  God  who  they  might  be,  she 
was  told  that  they  were  the  souls  of  Religious  who,  having  lived  in 
monasteries  of  lax  observance,  by  transgressing  their  vows,  and  par 
ticularly  that  of  poverty,  had  been  sentenced  to  eternal  torments.  This 
had  been  done  also  because  they  had  used  the  sacred  habit  to  feed  their 
vanity  and  fickleness,  with  offense  to  modesty  and  religious  decorum. 
Hence,  weeping,  she  said:  UO  unhappy  souls,  how  much  better  would 
it  have  been  for  you,  if  you  had  remained  in  the  world,  than  to  have 
bound  yourselves  by  solemn  promises  in  the  cloister,  without  observing 
them  !  Now  your  torments  increase  in  proportion  to  your  unfulfilled 
obligations.  .  .  .  O  religious  poverty,  how  little  thou  art  known  and 
practiced  !  If  thou  wert  justly  appreciated  by  those  who  profess  to  fol 
low  thee,  the  cells  would  not  be  seen  full  of  ornaments;  the  keeping  of 
money  to  be  spent  according  to  one's  will  would  be  abhorred  like  poison ; 
and  so  many  other  vain  pomps,  unbecoming  the  true  Religious,  would 
be  banished  from  the  sacred  cloisters.  Oh  !  how  the  beauty  of  religious 
poverty,  O  my  Jesus,  has  become  deformed  by  the  possession  of  accursed 
property  !  Oh  !  how  many  souls  of  Religious  are  burning  in  hell  for  not 
having  held  in  esteem  and  observed  holy  poverty  !"  Without  fathoming 
the  hidden  thoughts  of  an  individual,  still  the  world  itself  has  the  right  to 
ask  of  those  who  profess  religious  perfection :  Why  so  much  affectation  in 
a  habit  which  in  its  form  indicates  penance,  and  which  even  in  its  color 
signifies  innocence?  Why  that  luxury  in  dwellings,  which  rivals  that 
of  the  world  ?  The  pretext  fox  this  luxury,  that  men  of  great  dignity 
are  received  therein,  is  a  vain  one ;  as  the  religious  houses  should  repre 
sent  the  stable  of  Bethlehem,  where  the  kings  and  the  shepherds  alike 
were  received.  It  is  impossible  not  to  be  convinced,  upon  the  first  accusa 
tion,  of  levity  of  spirit ;  hence,  those  who  are  guilty  of  it,  being  unfaith 
ful  to  their  assumed  obligation,  or,  at  least,  incapable  of  doing  all  the 
good  which  is  expected  of  them,  are  justly  destined  to  that  place  where 
sighs,  and  cries,  and  loud  lamentations  resound  through  the  air,  and  of 
whom  it  was  "well  said  :— 


I  understood,  for  certain,  this  the  tribe 
Of  those  ill  spirits  both  to  God  displeasing 
And  to  his  foes.— Dante's  (Carey  Trans.)  Hell,  III. 

But,  thanks  to  Divine  Providence,  even  to-day,  in  the  midst  of  that 
class  of  persons,  there  are  not  wanting  those  who  by  their  example, 
wisdom,  and  doctrine,  which  secure  their  perfection,  lead  others  also 
into  the  path  of  salvation ;  and  this  is  particularly  the  case  among  the 
children  of  St.  Francis,  who  follow  more  strictly  the  spirit  of  Jesus 
Christ,  by  poverty  alone,  which  their  holy  founder  called  his  lady,  and  on 
which  he  willed  that  the  Order  he  was  erecting  should  chiefly  rest. 

Then,  the  season  come  that  he, 

Who  to  such  good  had  destined  .him,  was  pleas'd 

To  advance  him  to  the  meed,  which  he  had  earn'd 

By  self-humbling  ;  to  his  brotherhood, 

As  their  just  heritage,  he  gave  in  charge 

This  dearest  lady  ;  and  enjoin'd  their  love 

And  faith  to  her —Daniels  (Carey  Trans.)  Parad.  XI. 


Another  time,  likewise  in  ecstasy,  Magdalen  saw  a  great  multitude 
of  souls  of  cloistered  persons  who  were  burning  in  the  everlasting  flames, 
because,  to  the  great  offense  of  God,  they  had  abused  the  time  which  by 
the  rules  is  generally  granted  for  the  recreation  of  the  body,  that  after 
wards  they  might,  with  greater  zest,  attend  to  devotions.  Here  she  also 
wept  bitterly,  and  with  a  voice  of  sorrow  pronounced  these  words : 
"  O  wretched  Religious  souls  !  O  great  misery,  that  what  is  granted  to 
Religious  for  their  recreation  should  become  the  cause  of  their  eternal 
ruin ! "  And  she  offered  to  God  the  most  fervent  prayers,  that  He 
might  condescend  to  enlighten  those  souls,  bound  by  solemn  vows, 
and  having  still  time  for  penance  left  to  them. 

GOES  TO  POSSESS  THE  ETERNAL  JOYS. — In  1598,  about  the  end  of  October, 
in  said  monastery,  Sister  Maria  Benedetta  Vittori  died,  young  in  age,  but 
old  in  virtue  and  perfection.     Our  Magdalen,  who  never  failed  to  assist  in 
cases  of  extreme  importance,  being  present  at  her  death,  saw  a  great  multi 
tude  of  angels  surrounding  her  and  waiting  for  her  to  draw  her  last  breath. 
The  following  morning,  whilst   the  body  of  the  deceased  was  in  the 
church,  and  Mass  was  being  sung  for  her  soul,  she  was  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
and  saw  the  soul  of  the  sister  in  paradise,  adorned  with  a  glory  superior 
to  that  of  any  other  nun  in  the  monastery  who  had  previously  died. 
Describing   the   ornaments  and  delights  of  that   soul,    she   told   how, 
in  reward  for  her  ardent  charity,  she  was  dressed  with  a  gilt  mantle  ; 
and,  for  having  always  dealt  with  her  neighbor  in  loyalty  and  meekness, 
a  most  sweet  liquid  came  out  of  the  mouth  of  Jesus  into  her  own,  and 
made  her  taste  a  great  sweetness,  and  she  freely  fixed  her  eyes  on  the 
humanity  and  divinity  of  the  Word.     Magdalen,  moved  by  the  sight  of 
so  delightful  an  object,  exclaimed  in  a  voice  of  joy  and  complacency : 
UO    my  dove,  how  beautiful  art  thou!  how  resplendent  with  celestial 
light !     I  know  that  now  thou  dost  not  go  with  thy  head  bowed  down, 
as  thou  wast  wont  to  do  when  amongst  us."     In  the  meantime  she 
understood  that  this  soul  had  been  detained  in  purgatory  five  hours 
before  ascending  to  heaven,  but  had  not  suffered  there  any  pain  of  the 
senses,  only  the  privation  of  the  sight  of  God,  and  this  for  a  very  slight 
fault  of  self-love,  which  was  that  on  seeing  anyone  displeased  on  her 
account  she  grieved  so  much  that  she  was  thereby  distracted  from  her 
recollection  in  God.     After  this,  recommending  to  that  blessed  soul  her 
self  and  her  monastery,  the  sweet  vision  ceased,  and  she  returned  to  her 
senses.     She  had  also  seen  in  purgatory  the  soul  of  a  Florentine  gentle 
woman,  who  suffered  heavily  for  having  prevented  her  daughter  from 
becoming  a  nun. 

THE  SOULS  OF  TWO  MEN  SENTENCED  TO  DEATH. — As  human  justice 
was  leading  two  wretches  to  the  last  punishment,  near  the  monastery 
of  St.    Maria  degli  Angeli,  where  they  had  treacherously  perpetrated 
a  murder,  our  Saint  being  informed  of  it,  brought  into  action  all  the 
zeal    of  her  most  loving   heart   for   the   salvation  of  their   souls,    and 
doubled    the  efforts  of  her   tender   and   winning    mediation  with  the 

114  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS  OF 

Divine  Mercy.  At  the  moment  in  which  the  life  of  these  two  creatures 
of  God  was  being  cut  off  by  the  hand  of  man,  Magdalen,  rapt  out  of  her 
senses,  understood  how  the  souls  of  both  had  passed  to  a  place  of  salva 
tion  :  one  ascending  immediately  to  heaven,  on  account  of  a  perfect  resig 
nation  to  die  ;  the  other,  after  a  short  stay  in  purgatory,  because  less 
resigned.  Which,  in  fact,  corresponded  to  the  disposition  of  each 
of  them  in  the  different  manner  of  submitting  to  their  sad  doom. 
The  Christian  death  of  both  was  chiefly  attributed  to  the  prayers  of 
Mother  Mary  Magdalen,  the  assiduity,  energy,  and  efficacy  of  which,  in 
the  eternal  behalf  of  these  two  unhappy  men,  were  known  to  all. 





iHB  language  of  the  passions  and  that  of  ignorance  easily 
lead  us  to  generalize  an  opinion  either  in  favor  of  cer 
tain  classes  of  society  or  against  them.  In  the  strangest 
and  most  illogical  manner  a  uniform  character  is  attributed 
to  all  the  members  constituting  a  class  of  persons ;  and, 
generally,  this  is  in  a  bad  sense,  on  account  of  the  evil 
tendency  of  man  to  speak  ill  of  his  neighbor  and  calumniate 
him  rather  than  to  speak  well  of  him  and  justify  him.  From 
the  faults  of  some  members  the  whole  body  is  judged ;  hence,  the 
most  monstrous  injustice  to  the  innocent  ones.  The  ecclesiastical  con 
gregations,  and  particularly  the  regular  ones,  are  subject,  more  than 
others,  to  such  wholesale  condemnation ;  and  among  these  none  has 
been  or  is  still  so  maligned  as  the  Society  of  Jesus.  Men  conspicuous 
for  doctrine,  power,  and  wealth  joined  the  rabble  ;  nay,  they  themselves 
urged  the  attack  on  the  Jesuits.  Their  rich  possessions  and  their  sup 
posed  meddling  in  family  and  political  affairs  are  causes  for  displeas 
ure,  as  thereby  their  spirit  seems  very  unevangelical,  viz.,  little  loyal,  but 
rather  exceptionally  egotistical  in  regard  to  other  religious  corporations. 
These  faults  may  be  the  effect  of  the  abuse  of  individual  men,  whose 
passions  are  never  extinguished  while  on  earth  ;  but  they  can  never  sup 
ply  an  honest  pretext  for  inflicting  a  condemnation  on  the  whole  moral 
body.  (Some  other  pernicious  things  of  which  the  world  sometimes 
complains,  blaming  the  Jesuits  for  them,  are  rather  to  be  blamed  on 
those  who,  not  being  Jesuits  in  garb,  affect  to  belong  to  them  by  affili 
ation,  taking  from  them  all  their  faults  and  none  of  their  virtues ;  hence, 
their  spirit  is  moved  by  false  zeal,  which  gnaws  at  charity  and  begets 
dissension,  so  that,  more  than  others,  these  restless  proselytizers  disfigure 
and  injure  both  the  Company  of  St.  Ignatius  and  the  holy  religion 
of  Christ.)  On  the  other  hand,  the  perfection  in  science  and  virtue  of 
so  many  members  of  this  Company,  who  have  spent  their  lives  for  the 
good  of  society  in  general,  gives  it  the  most  legal  and  sacred  right  to 
public  esteem  and  gratitude.  To-day  they  militate  under  laws  wholly 
identical  with  those  that  gave  us  such  advantages ;  so  that  there  is  no 
reason  why  the  latter  should  not  be  reproduced.  Therefore,  not  with 
contempt,  which  is  ill  adapted  to  persuade  anybody,  but  with  words 


of  conviction  and  the  evidence  of  facts,  we  must  enter  into  their  spirit, 
that  they  may  lend  us  their  hand  to  help  us  to  walk  steadfastly  according 
to  the  needs  of  the  day.  It  is  a  common  saying  that  ignominious  and 
coercive  forms  do  not  suit  the  present  times,  nor  the  ideas  thereof.  Let 
us,  then,  practice  with  everyone  this  most  sound  principle,  and  let  us  be 
convinced  that  modern  society  cannot  reach  its  normal  state  until  we 
uniformly  come  to  an  understanding  in  order  to  establish  the  universal 
brotherhood  of  man,  to  which  object  the  wishes  of  all  wise  persons  tend. 
Intellects  have  already  been  shaken  ;  young  people,  above  all,  pant  after 
the  knowledge  of  truth.  Who  gives  them  the  glass  in  which  to  see 
themselves,  and  learn  good  morals,  philanthropy,  uprightness,  and  all 
that  constitutes  a  young  man  such  as  the  country  may  rest  her  hopes  on? 
Who  but  the  Jesuit  in  the  person  of  St.  Aloysius  Gonzaga,  reared  and 
raised  till  the  age  of  seventeen  in  a  princely  family,  a  model  of  purity 
and  humility,  and  who  lived  in  the  Company  of  Jesus  till  the  age 
of  twenty- three?  In  that  year  of  his  age,  which  was  the  year  1591,  a 
fierce  pestilence  broke  out  in  Rome  and  cruelly  scourged  all  Italy. 
During  this  plague,  he  gave  proof  of  possessing  the  charity  for  his 
brethren  of  which  Christ  said  there  is  none  greater,  viz.,  that  charity  which 
makes  one  give  up  his  life  for  others ;  and  thus  rendered  himself  such 
a  model  of  spiritual  perfection  that  there  is  no  college  or  society  of 
young  people  among  Catholics,  which  has  not  chosen  him  as  a  protector 
and  a  guide.  It  is  certainly  a  difficult  thing  for  the  Company  to  give 
us  a  second  St.  Aloysius  ;  but  it  cannot  be  denied  that  many  of  its 
members  have  several  times  since  made  great  efforts  to  approach,  as  near 
as  possible,  his  sanctity.  We  had  an  evident  proof  of  this  in  our  own 
days,  when  the  pestilential  scourge  in  1837  again  struck  the  lofty  coun 
tenance  of  the  Eternal  City.  It  was  then  that  the  children  of  St. 
Ignatius  distinguished  themselves  in  a  marvelous  and  singular  manner 
in  assisting  corporally  and  spiritually  the  unhappy  ones  affected  with 
cholera  morbus,  when  some  of  the  ecclesiastics,  even  the  regular  ones, 
had  retired  to  avoid  the  contagion.  The  world,  then,  may  yet  look  for 
some  good  from  the  Jesuits  ;  and  as  their  social  position,  in  preference 
to  other  Religious,  enables  them  to  do  much  good  if  they  are  filled  with 
the  pure  spirit  of  their  founder,  just  as  they  might  do  great  harm  if  this 
spirit  degenerates  into  a  spirit  of  turbulence,  intrigue,  stubbornness, 
hypocrisy;  therefore  we  must  exhaust  with  them  .all  the  means  of  con 
ciliation.  And  if  this  should  prove  to  be  useless,  let  us  weep  over 
the  loss  of  those  who  wish  to  be  lost  ;  but  let  us  respect  the  dignity,  the 
right,  the  justice  of  the  innocent,  whom  we  will  always  find  amidst  all 
classes  of  persons.1 

To  our  St.  Mary  Magdalen,  who  was  well  disposed  towards  the 
Company  of  Jesus,  God  wanted  to  give  a  fresh  proof  of  the  very  high 
perfection  of  St.  Aloysius  Gonzaga.  On  the  4th  of  April  of  the  year 
1600,  whilst  she  was  praying  with  a  very  high  degree  of  fervor,  her  mind 
was^  raised  to  the  celestial  beatitude,  where  she  saw  this  angel  of 
purity,  radiant  with  sovereign  splendor,  enjoying  with  a  most  joyous 

i  The  reader  should  bear  in  mind  the  prevailing  spirit  of  the  times  in  which  the 
original  was  written.— Note  of  the  Translator. 

ST.   MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  1 17 

and  glorious  countenance  the  unutterable  reward  of  his  virtues.  Daz 
zled  by  the  sight  of  this  heavenly  object,  with  pauses  and  interruptions, 
she  uttered  these  words:  uOh!  how  much  glory  Louis,  the  son  of 
Ignatius,  possesses !  I  would  never  have  believed  it,  unless  Thou,  O  my 
Jesus,  had  shown  him  to  me.  ...  It  seems  to  me  in  a  certain  manner 
that  there  could  scarcely  be  so  much  glory  in  heaven  as  that  which 
Louis  enjoys.  ...  I  say  that  Louis  is  a  great  Saint.  .  .  .  We  have  saints 
in  church  (she  meant  Saints  whose  sacred  relics  they  had  in  the  church 
of  the  monastery)  who,  I  believe,  have  not  so  much  glory.  ...  I  would 
like  to  be  able  to  go  through  the  whole  world,  and  say  that  Louis,  son  of 
Ignatius,  is  a  great  Saint ;  and  I  would  like  to  be  able  to  show  his  glory 
to  everyone,  that  God  might  be  glorified.  .  .  .  He  possesses  so  much  glory 
because  of  his  interior  work.  .  .  .  Who  could  ever  relate  the  value  and 
the  merit  of  interior  works  ?  There  is  no  comparison  between  the 
interior  and  the  exterior.  .  .  .  Louis,  whilst  on  earth,  kept  his  mouth 
open  to  the  Word  "  (she  meant  to  say  that  this  Saint  loved  the  interior 
inspirations  of  the  Word  and  tried  to  fulfill  them)  .  .  .  "  Louis  was  a  hid 
den  martyr  ;  because  he  who  loves  Thee,  my  God,  knows  that  Thou  art 
so  great  and  infinitely  amiable,  that  it  is  a  great  martyrdom  to  him  to  see 
that  he  does  not  love  Thee  as  much  as  he  wishes  to  love  Thee;  and  that 
Thou  art  not  loved,  but  rather  offended  by  creatures.  .  .  .  He  made 
himself  a  martyr  also.  .  .  .  Oh !  how  much  he  loved  Thee  on  earth ! 
hence  he  now  rejoices  in  heaven  in  great  fullness  of  love.  .  .  .  While 
on  earth,  the  heart  of  the  Word  pierced  him  with  darts ;  now  that  he  is 
in  heaven,  those  darts  rest  in  his  heart ;  as  he  now  understands  and 
enjoys  those  communications  that  he  merited  by  the  acts  of  love  and 
union  which  he  performed,  and  which  were  like  darts."  In  seeing  that 
this  Saint  prayed  warmly  for  those  who,  during  life,  gave  him  spiritual 
help,  she  added :  "  I,  too,  will  try  to  help  souls,  that,  if  any  of  them 
go  to  heaven,  they  may  pray  for  me,  as  St.  Louis  does  for  those  who, 
while  on  earth,  assisted  him."  Here  the  Saint  ceasing  to  speak,  the 
vision  and  the  rapture  ended  ;  but  she  continued  to  venerate  the  Jesuit 
Luigi  Gonzaga  with  great  reverence  and  with  the  most  tender  and 
constant  devotion  all  her  lifetime. 





JJMONG  the  supernatural  gifts  with,  which  God  vouchsafed  to 
deck  this  bride  of  His,  was  this  one,  viz.,  her  seeing  and 
feeling  things  far  from  her  as  if  they  were  present  to  her. 
She  was  several  times  favored  with  this  gift,  and  especially 
in  the  following  cases  :— 

whilst  Magdalen  was  one  day  in  ecstasy  in  the  novitiate  hall,  she  dictated 
a  letter  addressed  to  Sister  Catherine  De-Ricci,  a  nun  at  that  time  living 
in  the  monastery  of  St.  Vincent  in  Prato,  and  now  enjoying  the  glory  of 
heaven,  and  on  earth  the  honors  of  the  altar.  The  letter  being  sealed,  it 
was  sent  to  its  destination  by  the  steward  of  the  monastery.  A  few 
hours  having  elapsed,  and  Magdalen  still  continuing  in  the  same  ecstasy, 
from  the  words  uttered  she  gave  the  nuns  to  understand  that  she  saw  the 
steward  handing  the  letter  to  Sister  Catherine ;  and  shortly  after,  from  the 
movement  of  her  eyes,  she  appeared  to  read  what  that  sister  was  writing 
in  answer.  As  this  answer  did  not  fully  meet  her  desire,  she  became 
somewhat  troubled  in  her  appearance ;  and  she  also  seemed  to  see 
the  answer  handed  to  somebody.  About  four  hours  afterward  the  stew 
ard  returned  with  it,  and  was  questioned  by  the  sisters  as  to  the  time 
and  other  circumstances  attending  the  execution  of  the  commission. 
The  letter  was  read  by  the  superioress,  who,  having  received  from  the 
Saint,  after  her  rapture,  a  complete  explanation  of  it,  found  everything 
to  coincide  with  what  had  been  ecstatically  revealed  to  her. 

a  Friday  evening,  being  in  the  refectory  for  the  purpose  of  taking 
some  little  food  with  the  other  sisters,  Mary  Magdalen  suddenly  arose 
from  the  table,  and,  swiftly  going  to  the  superioress,  told  her 
with  vehemence  :  "  Mother,  that  soul  passes  away  !  "  Without  saying 
anything  further,  she  ran  to  the  room  where  Sister  Mattea  Focardi, 
a  lay-sister,  was  confined,  because  of  a  sore  on  her  right  leg,  which  was 
far  from  threatening  death.  By  day,  although  confined  to  her  room 

Being  rapt  in  ecstasy,  she  receives  Holy  Communion  from 
Jesus  Christ  Himself  (  page  90). 



but  not  to  bed,  she  would  work  with  promptness  of  spirit  and  agility  of 
body.  When  Magdalen  arrived,  followed  by  other  nuns,  by  the  order  of 
the  mother  prioress,  Sister  Mattea  was  found  to  be  in  her  last  agony ; 
and,  the  Saint  recommending  her  soul,  in  a  few  minutes  the  dying  one 


PLACE,  MURMURING  ABOUT  THEIR  NEIGHBORS. — During  the  time  when 
our  Saint  attended  the  novices  in  the  company  of  the  mistress,  Sister 
Vangelista  del  Giocondo,  she  was  speaking  with  her  one  day  on  an  un 
important  subject.  She  suddenly  said,  as  if  she  had  heard  something 
extraneous  to  it:  ''Mother,  those  two  creatures  speak  not  well;  I  will 
go  and  correct  them."  Guided  by  the  Spirit  of  God,  who,  on  account  of 
her  desire  for  the  perfection  of  souls,  manifested  to  her  hidden  things, 
she  went  directly  to  where  these  novices  were,  and  found  her  vision  to 
be  true,  as  they  themselves  avowed  both  to  her  and  to  Sister  Vangelista. 

WITH  HIS  ASSOCIATES. — In  the  year  1600,  one  Saturday  evening  about 
dark,  she  called  to  her  the  novice  De-Berti,  who  in  the  world  had  been 
a  penitent   of  the   Rector   of  the  Jesuits,  and   thus  questioned   her : 
"What  dost  thou  think  father  rector  is  doing  at  this  hour?"     The 
novice    answered:    UI    think    he    must    be    praying."      "He   is    not 
praying,"  the  Saint  replied,  "  but  talking  with  some  of  the  fathers  about 
such  things  (she  named  them) ;  and  the  Holy  Ghost  is  forming  all  the 
wor/is  which  he  utters."     On  the  following  day,  the  above-named  father 
having  come,  as  the  extraordinary  confessor,  to  hear  the  sisters'  con 
fessions,  she  told  him  what  she  had  seen  and  heard  of  him  the  evening 
previous,  and  he  declared  that  her  vision  corresponded  in  every  respect  to 
the  facts. 


Pier -Francesco  Santucci,  of  a  distinguished  Florentine  family,  was  lying 
grievously  ill,  though  not  extremely  so.  He  had  a  daughter,  a  nun  and 
a  companion  of  Magdalen  in  religion  and  in  the  monastery.  The  Saint, 
being  alienated  from  her  senses,  seeing  in  spirit  his  passing,  went  to  his 
daughter,  and,  taking  her  by  the  hand,  said  to  her :  "  Sister,  weep  not ;  thy 
father,  by  the  merits  of  Christ  and  the  intercession  of  St.  Francis,  for 
whom  he  entertained  so  much  devotion,  has  passed  at  this  moment  to  a 
place  of  salvation."  The  steward  of  the  monastery  was  immediately 
dispatched  to  the  Santucci  palace,  and  in  a  very  short  time  he  returned 
with  confirmation  of  the  above  news ;  and  the  daughter  attested  that  her 
father  entertained  great  devotion  to  St.  Francis,  paying  to  him  daily 
homage  by  several  exercises  of  affectionate  piety. 

FATHER  CONFESSOR. — The  father  confessor  being  in  the  church,  and 
she  in  a  remote  cell,  knowing  nothing  of  him,  it   so  happened  that 
she  saw  him  spiritually  several  times,  and  she  manifested  the  vision  as 
follows:   u  I  see  the  blood  of  Christ  dropping  from  heaven  upon  souls : 
the  father  is  in  church  hearing  confessions  ;  I,  too,  will  go  and  receive 
this  blood."     And  she  went,  and  found  him,  in  fact,  engaged  in  that 


work.  It  also  happened  that  when  he  was  leaving  the  house  or  some  other 
place,  or  was  in  the  street,  coming  to  the  monastery,  Magdalen  by 
divine  inspiration  would  speak  of  it  to  the  nuns,  and  shortly  after  they 
would  see  him  arrive.  One  day  more  distinctly  feeling  a  strong  desire 
to  speak  to  her  confessor,  and  being  at  that  time  in  the  refectory  for  the 
midday  meal,  whilst  in  the  act  of  putting  the  food  into  her  mouth,  she 
was  rapt  in  ecstasy ;  and  then,  seeing  in  spirit  that  the  father  had 
reached  the  church,  she  dropped  on  the  table  what  she  held  in  her  hand, 
and  without  delay  ran  to  him.  He  had,  in  fact,  arrived,  and  she  con 
ferred  with  him  on  some  of  the  favors  with  which  God  had  privileged  her. 





ESI  DBS  the  aforesaid  gift  of  knowing  things  from  far  off  as 
if  they  were  happening  under  her  own  eye,  Magdalen  had 
also  the  other  one  of  foreseeing  and  foretelling  them  long 
before  they  happened.  Whilst  praying  to  God  for  the 
happy  issue  of  some  future  thing,  she  was  nearly  always 
not  only  heard  but  granted  a  prevision  of  it.  The  nuns 
soon  became  aware  with  certainty  of  this  most  distinct 
privilege ;  and,  afterwards,  even  secular  persons  ;  so  that 
both  the  former  and  the  latter,  moved  by  inborn  curiosity  to  know 
the  future,  used  to  go  to  her,  for  this  purpose,  often  and  with  persist 
ence,  and  would  then  notice  her  words  and  sayings  with  the  greatest 
accuracy.  But  she,  knowing  what  they  wished,  was  very  cautious  in 
guarding  such  a  precious  gift  with  the  virtue  of  humility,  not  manifest 
ing  her  power  except  to  her  spiritual  director,  the  superioress,  or  some 
sister  who  enjoyed  her  confidence.  To  others,  and  especially  persons 
in  the  world,  she  would  give  general  answers,  even  when  she  had  a  cer 
tain  and  special  prevision.  This  she  did  on  accouirt  of  her  humility, 
which,  by  unalterable  Divine  disposition,  was  followed  by  greater  exal 
tation.  She  was  so  penetrated  by  the  spirit  of  prophecy,  that  often, 
without  wishing  it,  she  manifested  to  any  one  future  things,  especially 
during  her  ecstasies,  when  being  filled  with  a  supernatural  force, 
she  could  not  resist,  as  God  then  was  speaking  by  her  voice.  During 
them,  she  was  often  heard  to  say :  "  Keep  it  to  Thyself,  O  L,ord,  keep 
it  to  Thyself:"  meaning,  by  this,  to  annihilate  any  possible  sentiment 
of  curiosity  or  of  her  own  worthiness.  She  considered  herself  wholly 
unworthy  of  such  communications  ;  and  that  they  might  at  least 
remain  unknown  to  others,  she  would  offer  pressing  prayers  to  God. 
Consequently,  as  a  reward,  she  had  more  of  them  than  could  be  counted, 
through  God's  wisdom  and  liberality.  The  following  are  the  most 
remarkable  ones : — 

SHORT  TIME  IN  SUCH  DIGNITY. — In  September  of  the  year  1586,  when 
the  nomination  of  the  new  prioress  of  the  monastery  of  St.  Maria  degli 
Angeli  was  about  to  take  place,  His  Eminence  Alessandro  De  Medici, 


Cardinal  Archbishop  of  Florence,  was  coming  to  preside  over  the  election. 
Magdalen  was  divinely  inspired  to  speak  to  him  on  this  occasion,  about 
various  things  concerning  the  government  of  the  Florentine  Church,  and 
particularly  about  that  of  her  monastery.  Some  persons  had  so  maliciously 
spoken  to  His  Eminence  about  the  Father  Confessor,  that  he  was  almost 
resolved  to  remove  him.  The  Saint,  knowing  this  tendency,  and  judging 
it  contrary  to  the  will  of  God  and  the  welfare  of  the  monastery,  felt 
determined  to  speak  frankly  about  it  to  the  Cardinal.  But  she  wished 
first  to  submit  her  determination  to  the  mother  prioress  and  the  con 
fessor  himself  for  advice.  Both  of  them  opposed  her  so  much  in  this 
that  they  were  actually  thinking  of  obliging  her  to  hide  in  her  cell  dur 
ing  the  hours  in  which  His  Eminence  would  hear  the  opinion  of  the 
nuns.  Prudential  reasons  moved  them  to  this.  But  man's  counsel  is 
powerless  against  God's  will.  On  the  29th  of  September,  the  day 
appointed  for  the  election,  Magdalen,  having  received  Holy  Communion 
early  in  the  morning,  became  immediately  alienated  from  her  senses, 
and,  while  thus  ecstatic,  stopped  at  the  grate  of  the  chapter,  which 
looks  towards  the  church,  where  the  superior  was  to  receive  the  voice 
(vote)  of  the  nuns ;  and  the  virtue  of  the  Spirit  of  God  kept  her  immov 
able  many  hours,  that  is,  until  the  arrival  of  His  Eminence ;  so  that 
not  even  by  force  could  she  be  removed  or  even  shaken.  At  the  sight 
of  the  Cardinal  this  immovability  turned  into  a  great  animation  of  spirit, 
which  made  her  suddenly  utter  these  words  in  an  ecstatic  and  majestic 
manner :  "  Alexander,  Alexander,  noli  tang  ere  christos  meos,  et  in 
andllis  meis  noli  malignari"  • —"  Touch  thou  not  my  anointed:  and  do 
no  evil  to  my  handmaids"  (Ps.  civ,  15) — adding  afterwards  that  which 
God  inspired  her  to  manifest  in  behalf  of  the  monastery  and  the  con 
fessor.  Then  she  came  out  of  her  ecstasy,  and  left  the  place.  His  Emi 
nence,  greatly  amazed  at  what  he  had  heard,  could  not  at  the  moment 
answer  anything,  but  that  this  daughter  had  spoken  well  in  the  person 
of  the  Holy  Ghost.  He  was  so  touched  by  it,  that,  after  the  ceremony, 
he  had  the  Saint  called  to  him  and  discoursed  with  her  for  a  while, 
drawing  therefrom  evident  proofs  of  her  sanctity,  and  ineffable  consola 
tion  for  his  heart.  Before  leaving  the  monastery,  he  greatly  com 
mended  the  virtue  of  Magdalen  to  Sister  Vangelista  del  Giocondo,  the 
new  prioress,  telling  her  that  during  the  private  colloquy  Magdalen 
had  foretold  him  that  he  was  to  be  Pope.  Magdalen  corroborated 
this  fact  to  the  superioress  when  she  asked  her  about  it.  When,  after 
the  lapse  of  some  years,  the  same  Cardinal  was  called  to  Rome  to  be 
sent  to  France  as  a  Legate  a  latere  of  His  Holiness  Clement  VIII,  while 
going  thither,  and  as  he  was  in  the  street  opposite  the  monastery  of 
Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli,  Magdalen,  who  then  was  contemplating 
ecstatically  the  divine  attributes,  pronounced  these  words:  "  This 
Christ  (such  was  the  name  she  gave  to  the  prelates)  has  received 
to-day  a  great  honor,  and  will  reach  the  supreme  one;  but  it  will 
not  last  long;  when  he  will  want  to  embrace  his  glory,  it  will  dis 
appear."  ^The  same  prediction  she  made  several  times 'when  not  in 
ecstasy;  it  was  verified  in  1605,  when  said  Cardinal  was  elected 
Sovereign  Pontiff,  assuming  the  name  of  Leo  XI ;  and  the  -completion 
of  this  prophecy  took  place  twenty-seven  days  afterwards,  when,  leaving 


the  pomp  that  the  world  was  prodigally  giving  him,  he  returned  the 
dust  of  his  body  to  the  earth,  and  his  soul  appeared  before  that  terrible 
Judgment-Seat,  before  which  no  human  power  can  take  exception. 


HER  MONASTERY. — On  account  of  the  love  this  Saint  bore  her  Re 
ligion,  she  did  her  best  in  order  that  the  rules  would  be  invariably 
observed :  thus  she  constantly  prayed  to  God  that  he  might,  for 
this  monastery,  select  souls  endowed  with  the  true  spirit ;  which  being 
granted  her  by  Divine  Goodness,  several  times  some  girls  were  made 
known  to  her  in  spirit  whom  God  proposed  would  become  nuns  therein  ; 
and  especially  in  the  following  instance :  One  day  in  1 590,  being  in  ecstasy, 
she  said  that  she  saw  the  Blessed  Virgin  leading  a  girl  from  the  Indies,  to 
become  a  nun  among  them.  The  sisters  present,  hearing  this  news,  were 
troubled,  as  it  would  be  very  much  against  their  wishes  to  accept  foreign 
ers.  The  cause  of  their  trouble  becoming  known  to  the  Saint,  she 
assured  them,  that,  being  led  by  the  Blessed  Virgin,  that  girl  would 
certainly  be  endowed  with  all  the  virtues  suitable  to  this  vocation;  and 
said,  in  particular,  that  she  would  be  a  lover  of  poverty,  of  self-abase 
ment,  and  much  enlightened  as  to  the  religious  life.  This  prophecy  was 
fulfilled  five  years  afterwards,  when,  in  1595,  Catherine,  daughter  of 
Roderigo  Ximenez,  a  Portuguese,  having  been  brought  to  Florence 
by  her  parents  to  marry  into  a  noble  family  of  that  city,  refused  all 
earthly  espousals,  and  chose  the  religious  state  in  said  monastery ;  all  of 
which  happened  a  month  after  her  arrival  in  Florence.  She  was  called 
Sister  Catherine  Angelica.  On  the  day  of  her  receiving  the  habit, 
Magdalen  foretold  many  things  which  were  to  happen  to  her  during  her 
life;  and  she  herself  testified  in  time  that  these  came  to  pass  just  as  the 
Saint  had  foretold. 

In  1598,  a  Florentine  girl  of  the  noble  family  De-Berti,  to  please 
an  aunt,  entered  the  monastery  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli  for  ten  days. 
For  several  reasons  she  had  positively  decided  to  become  a  nun  among 
the  Dominicans  of  St.  Catherine  of  Florence.  But  witnessing,  during 
one  of  these  days,  a  rapture  of  our  Saint,  she  felt  constrained  to  question 
her  thus:  "  Dost  thou  believe,  mother,  that  I  am  to  be  a  nun  in  this 
monastery? ' '  And  Magdalen  immediately  answered  :  "  I  not  only  believe 
it,  but  know  with  certainty  that  thou  shalt  be  here  with  us. "  This  seem 
ing  impossible  to  the  girl,  and  whilst  she  was  thinking  of  some  difficul 
ties  she  foresaw,  Magdalen,  as  if  seeing  her  thoughts,  subjoined :  "Jesus 
will  send  down  some  of  His  dew  on  these  hearts  and  will  mollify  them, 
and  every  difficulty  will  vanish."  The  same  thing  she  repeated  to  her 
another  time  at  the  gates  of  the  monastery,  when  this  girl  had  come 
out ;  and  she  showed  herself  so  sure  of  it  that,  if  an  angel  had  told  her 
the  contrary,  she  would  have  taken  him  for  a  demon.  The  prophecy  of 
the  Saint  was  fulfilled,  as  the  De-Berti  became  a  nun  in  this  monastery; 
and,  out  of  veneration  and  gratitude,  she  wished  and  obtained  to  be 
called  Sister  Mary  Magdalen. 

At  that  time  there  was  being  educated,  in  the  above-mentioned 
monastery  of  St.  Catherine,  Francesca  de  Sommai,  a  noble  Florentine  girl,, 
who,  because  of  her  singular  goodness  and  innocence,  being  like  an 
angel  in  the  flesh,  was  greatly  loved  by  the  said  De-Berti,  who  had  been 

THF<    LIFE    AND   WORKS   Otf 

her  companion  for  some  years  in  the  same  monastery.  Hence,  De-Berti, 
being  now  a  nun  in  the  monastery  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli, 
wished  very  much  to  have  with  her  so  dear  a  companion  in  the  most 
intimate  and  lasting  manner,  that  is,  she  wished  God  would  lead  her  to 
become  a  nun  in  the  same  monastery.  For  this  she  was  always  praying 
to  God,  and  she  also  often  importuned  our  Saint  that  she  might  for  this 
purpose  interpose  the  power  of  her  mediation  with  God.  One  day,  our 
Saint  being  in  ecstasy,  she  asked  her  this  question  :  u  Mother,  dost  thou 
think  that  Francesca  de  Sommai  is  to  be  a  nun  with  us?"  To  which 
Magdalen  frankly  replied  :  u  Jesus  showed  her  to  me  with  our  habit  on." 
Another  time  she  answered  a  like  interrogation  as  follows :  "  I  doubt 
not  but  that  Francesca  de  Sommai  will  be  a  nun  in  this  monastery  :  I 
know  it  with  certainty."  Nothing  was  yet  known  about  the  girl's  inten 
tion.  At  the  end  of  two  years  Francesca  came  out  of  the  monastery  of 
St.  Catherine,  and,  moved  by  devout  curiosity,  for  some  days  entered  into 
that  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli.  All  her  affection,  though,  was  for  the 
former,  where  she  had  dwelt  from  the  age  of  three  years.  Nevertheless, 
inspired  in  an  altogether  singular  manner,  she  selected  the  latter  in 
which  to  become  a  nun,  and  carried  out  her  determination  with  great 

MENT  OF  THIS  REFUSAL. — In  1594  a  noble  Florentine  girl  anxiously 
wished  to  become  a  nun  in  the  monastery  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli ; 
but  her  mother  was  inflexibly  opposed  to  it.     To  overcome  this  opposi 
tion,  the  afflicted  girl  was  having  recourse  to  the  prayers  of  our  Saint, 
who,  knowing  the  obstinacy  of  the  lady,  said  one  day  to  her  daughter 
that  her  mother  would  shortly  die  and  she  herself  would  become  a  nun 
in  this  monastery.     Both  of  which  things  came  to  pass  that  same  year. 



AND  IT  so  HAPPENED. — About  that  time  a  lady  of  Florence,  much 
noted  for  her  title  and  state,  was  grieving  because  God  had  granted  her 
no  children.  In  order  to  be  consoled,  she  had  recourse  with  confidence 
to  the  prayers  of  our  Magdalen ;  and  she  was  not  disappointed.  Not 
many  days  elapsed  before  she  felt  that  her  ardent  wish  was  about  to  be 
gratified.  The  knowledge  oi  this  fact  having  been  imparted  to  Magda 
len,  she  said:  "Tell  the  lady  that  she  will  give  birth  to  a  girl ;  but  to 
remember  that  she  will  be  a  child  of  prayer  and  therefore  must  be  dedi 
cated  to  God  in  the  sacred  Religion  ;  or  else  great  will  be  the  sorrows  of 
both  mother  and  daughter."  The  birth  took  place  according  to  the  pre 
diction,  and  the  sorrows  came  also  afterwards.  The  mother,  forgetful  of 
the  warning  of  the  Saint,  or  too  mindful  of  worldly  honor,  when  her 
daughter  reached  a  suitable  age,  married  her  to  a  rich  marquis,  who, 
haying  shortly  afterward  been  found  guilty  of  rebellion  against  his 
prince,  lost  his  head  by  the  executioner's  axe.  His  property  was  confis 
cated,  leaving  his  widow  in  sad  desolation  and  with  the  indelible  mark  of 
infamy  on  herself  and  relatives. 



Another  girl,  a  noble  Florentine,  felt  called  by  God  to  the  religious 
state ;  and  in  fact,  in  order  to  try  it  for  a  while,  she  entered,  for  some 
days,  the  monastery  of  St.  Maria  degli  Angeli  ;  but,  allured  by  human 
interests  and  considerations,  could  not  bring  herself  to  a  final  decision, 
because  her  mother  was  unwilling  to  give  her  consent  to  it.  The 
Saint  failed  not  to  do  her  best,  in  order  that  the  girl  would  correspond 
with  fidelity  to  the  divine  call ;  but,  seeing  her  still  irresolute,  she  told 
her  frankly  that  God  had  chosen  her  to  be  a  nun  in  that  monastery,  and 
that  if  she  refused  to  become  one  she  would  have  to  suffer  many  adver 
sities  in  the  world,  and  if  her  mother  would  dissuade  her  from  becoming 
a  nun  she,  too,  would  be  severely  punished.  But  neither  one  nor  the  other 
paid  any  attention  to  Magdalen's  words,  which,  having  been  inspired  by 
God,  were  not  uttered  in  vain,  as  great  family  woes  befell  the  daughter 
after  she  was  married,  and  the  mother  was  visited  by  a  cancer  of  such 
intensity  and  malignity  that  in  a  short  time  it  carried  her  to  the  grave 
amidst  the  most  excruciating  pains. 

ILL,  AND  OTHER  PARTICULAR  EVENTS. — Sister  Maria  Vincenza  Dati,  a 
noble  Florentine  girl,  who  had  been  six  years  a  nun  in  the  monastery  of 
St.  Maria  degli  Angeli,  and  had  always  been  in  ill  health,  in  1592  was 
attacked  by  such  a  violent  fever  that  the  physicians  thought  a  pulmo 
nary  ailment  would  soon  ensue.     She  suffered  this  fever  for  eighteen 
months,  and  her  health  was  wholly  despaired  of.     This  nun,  knowing  her 
dangerous  condition,  placed  her  confidence,  which  is  never  totally  extin 
guished  in  the  heart  of  the  living,  in  the  efficacy  of  prayer,  recommend 
ing  herself  particularly  to  the  great  charity  of  our  St.  Mary  Magdalen. 
The  Saint  felt  compassion  for  her,  and  said  to  her  one  morning  after  Holy 
Communion:  "Sister,  have  faith,  as  Jesus  wishes  to  restore  thee  to  thy 
health. "     She  then  prayed  before  a  Crucifix,  made  the  sign  of  the  cross 
on  the  sick  sister,  and  added  :   uThou  shalt  recover  little  by  little,  so  that 
it  will  seem  as  if  thou  didst  recover  naturally ;  as  for  this  purpose  I 
prayed  to  Jesus.     Moreover,  I  tell  thee  that  thou  shalt  live  many  years 
in  Religion  in  good  health,  and  wilt  be  able  to  obey  all  orders  and  labor 
in  all  offices  like  the  others."     This  prediction  was  verified  completely, 
as  in  the  course  of  three  months  the  patient  had  entirely  recovered  her 
health  in  a  very  natural  way,  and  lived  a  long  time  afterwards,  working 
with  invariable  activity  at  all  things  which  the  rule  and  obedience  im 
posed  on  her. 

THIS. — After  the  example  given  by  Christ  to  His  disciples  in  washing 
their  feet,  and  the  exhortations  made  to  them  to  imitate    Him — the 
disciples,  thinking  of  the  sorrow  they  should  feel  for  His  ignominious 
and   painful   death,    which  was   approaching  and   had   been   by   Him 
openly   announced   to   them;    and   detesting   the   treason  which   they 
knew  one  of  them  was  to  commit,  and  on  account  of  which  all  were 
dismayed   and    full   of  grief;    in  fine,   after  having   listened   for  three 

126  THE   LIFE   AND  WORKvS  OF 

years  to  His  exalted  teachings, — forgetful  in  a  moment  of  all  and 
little  understanding  them,  they  began  to  contend  among  themselves 
regarding  the  pre-eminence  and  the  honors  of  the  kingdom  prom 
ised  by  the  Divine  Saviour.  They  were  so  ambitious  that  each  of  them 
not  only  burned  with  the  desire  to  occupy  an  honorable  place  in  that 
kingdom,  but  wished  to  be  exalted  above  his  brethren ;  and  thus  they 
were  battling  among  themselves  with  regard  to  their  greatness  or 
preference.  So  strong  is  the  pride  which  the  first  father  transmitted 
to  his  children  that  it  could  not  be  kept  quiet,  even  in  the  hearts  of  men 
on  whom  the  most  efficacious  graces  of  divine  perfection  had  been  imme 
diately  bestowed.  This  most  hateful  sentiment  has  caused,  in  every  age 
and  country,  the  devastation  of  the  most  sacred  rights  of  humanity. 
Well  did  Italy  experience  this,  and  more  particularly  Florence,  whose 
very  buildings,  according  to  Sismondi,  give  a  special  idea  of  the  indi 
vidual  strength  and  cupidity  of  citizens  who  wish  to  be  great,  and  of  the 
haughtiness  of  the  great  ones  who  will  not  associate  with  them.  The 
fifteenth  century  witnessed  the  ill-omened  conspiracy  of  the  Pazzi  against 
the  house  of  Medici,  which  furnished  the  most  evident  proof  of  the 
difficulty  of  establishing  an  Italian  government,  one  and  national. 
Everywhere  in  Italy  the  factions  of  those  times  were  rotating  like  a  wind 
mill — now  for  one,  and  now  for  another  rival,  according  to  the  expression 
of  the  famous  emir  and  marabout,  Abd-el-Kader, — but  were  always 
crushing  down  new  victims.  Thus  it  happened  that,  the  sovereign 
power  being  seized  by  extraordinary  and  preponderant  forces,  every  one 
had  to  keep  pent  up  within  his  breast  the  noble  thought  of  fatherland- 
reputed  by  those  in  power  to  be  criminal — and  the  unhappy  Peninsula 
was  seen — 

....  girded,  but  not  with  her  sword  ; 
Fighting,  but  with  the  arm  of  foreign  people  ; 
Ever  doomed  to  servitude,  whether  victorious  or  vanquished. — FIUCAJA. 

Thus  works  human  ambition,  the  archenemy  of  brotherly  love. 
But,  as  the  Divine  Master  permitted  that  His  disciples  would  profit  so 
little  in  virtue,  that  afterwards,  being  ashamed  of  their  nothingness,  they 
would  become  rooted  in  humility  and  thereby  worthy  of  the  Divine 
assistance,  with  which  they  were  finally  so  copiously  favored,  so  He 
wanted  to  teach  all  that  ambition,  thirst  for  power,  and  rivalries  originate 
purely  from  man's  wickedness,  from  which  nothing  better  can  be 
expected,  and,  vice  versa,  that  the  forgiveness  of  injuries,  individual 
charity  for  our  neighbor,  and  veneration  of  innocence  are  the  outcome 
of  virtue,  which,  in  order  to  be  ingenuous  and  pure,  can  have  no  other 
beginning  than  God.  That  such  was  the  virtue  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen 
De-Pazzi,  it  is  superfluous  to  repeat.  I  will  rather  say  that  we  may 
believe  the  virtue  of  Princess  Maria,  daughter  of  Francis,  Grand  Duke 
of  Tuscany,  to  have  been  true  also,  as  it  seems  that,  the  aristocratic 
aversions  being  still  alive,  she  laid  down  at  the  foot  of  the  cross  every 
low  rancor,  every  perturbing  recollection,  and  rendered  what  was  due 
respectively  to  the  individual,  to  crime,  and  to  innocence.  She  several 
times  manifested  her  affection  and  regard  for  the  De-Pazzi  family, 
and  in  a  special  manner  for  St.  Mary  Magdalen,  towards  whom  she 
conducted  herself  in  an  extremely  devout  and  affectionate  manner. 


At  different  times  she  went  in  person  to  visit  her  at  her  monastery. 
The  most  remarkable  thing  happened  in  1600,  when,  having  been 
solemnly  married  to  Henry  IV,  king  of  France,  before  leaving  Italy 
she  wished  to  have  a  confidential  and  private  conference  with  our 
Saint.  The  queen  recommended  to  the  prayers  of  St.  Mary  Mag 
dalen  principally  three  things :  the  first,  a  most  important  one 
and  worthy  of  the  nobility  and  piety  of  her  spirit,  was,  that  the  tem 
poral  kingdom  would  not  be  to  her  the  cause  of  losing  the  eternal, 
adding  that  if  she  had  any  doubt  of  it  she  would  rather  have  chosen  to 
live  poor,  and  to  beg  from  door  to  door,  than  to  accept  the  position  of 
queen.  She  asked  St.  Mary  Magdalen  to  pray  to  God  that  the  high 
dignity  to  which  Providence  had  raised  her  would  not  make  her  forget 
her  nothingness — to  the  detriment  of  her  soul,  and  the  offense  of  Divine 
Goodness.  Oh  !  if  the  princes  and  the  powerful  ones  of  the  world  would 
think  thus,  the  submission  of  others  would  be  more  spontaneous  and 
loyal,  and  they  would  not  for  the  slightest  cause  feel  the  necessity  of 
using  brutally  coercive  force !  The  second  recommendation  was,  that 
her  husband  might  love  her ;  the  third,  that  she  might  have  male  issue. 
The  holy  mother  promised  her  to  pray  to  God  for  these  just  petitions, 
and  asked  her,  in  return,  these  three  graces:  That  she  herself  would 
interpose  with  the  king  in  order  that  he  would  reestablish  the  Jesuits  in 
his  kingdom,  telling  her  that  it  would  redound  to  the  very  great  advan 
tage  of  France  and  the  great  glory  of  God  ;  the  second,  that  she  should 
try  to  extirpate  heresies,  and  bring  the  kingdom  to  the  condition  in 
which  it  was  in  St.  Louis'  time  ;  the  third  one,  that  she  would  be  a  lover 
of  the  poor.  And  the  Saint  told  her  that,  if  she  did  these  three  things, 
God  would  surely  satisfy  her  wishes,  particularly  the  one  in  regard  to 
male  issue.  She  also  told  the  nuns  several  times  during  this  first  year 
of  the  marriage  of  Maria  De-Medici,  that  this  queen  would  give  birth  to 
several  male  children,  as  she  was  praying  to  God  for  this  with  the 
greatest  fervor,  in  order  that  the  kingdom  would  not  fall  into  the  hands 
of  heretics.  It  happened  afterwards  that  the  queen  had  several  sons,  the 
first  of  whom  was  Louis  XIII,  for  whom  she  was  regent  for  several 
years,  when  he  succeeded  in  1611  his  unhappy  father — whose  precious 
days  were  cut  off  by  the  wicked  Francis  Ravillac,  which  event  filled  entire 
France  with  inconsolable  sorrow — he  having  been  regarded  as  a  good 
husband,  a  good  father,  and  a  good  ruler.  Even  from  the  year  1604  the 
Jesuits  had  been  recalled  to  France,  and  this  by  a  declaration  of  par 
liament,  on  condition  that  one  of  them  would  remain  at  court  to  give 
an  account  of  the  doings  of  the  Society.  This  condition,  almost  an 
ignominious  one,  became  for  them  a  marked  honor,  as  they  succeeded 
in  being  appointed  the  king's  confessors.  The  queen-mother,  after  the 
celebrated  Cardinal  Richelieu  through  her  mediation  was  promoted  to 
be  the  Prime  Minister  of  State,  and  after  having  done  her  best  for  the 
welfare  of  the  kingdom,  being  somewhat  displeased  about  some  political 
affairs,  retired  to  Brussels,  and  ended  her  days  at  Cologne  in  1642,  leav 
ing  behind  good  reason  to  hope  that  she  had  passed  to  the  permanent 
enjoyment  of  that  peace  which  is  the  fruit  of  virtue  alone,  and  which  is 
expected  in  vain  from  human  greatness  and  glory.  Her  wise  son  and 
good  king  Louis  XIII  did  not  long  survive  her  ;  and  was  succeeded  in  the 

I28  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

kingdom  by  his  son  Louis  XIV,  who,  at  his  birth,  was  regarded  by  the 
French  as  a  gift  Heaven  had  granted  in  response  to  their  desires ;  hence, 
they  named  him  Adeodato  (God-given).  The  glory  of  his  government 
and  his  immortal  deeds  secured  for  him  afterwards  the  surname  of  Great. 

GARD  To  THE  TIME  OF  THEIR  DEATH. — In  1590  there  was  living 
in  the  monastery  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli,  in  perfect  health,  Sister 
Maria  Grazia  Gondi,  as  teacher  of  novices.  One  day,  our  Saint  seeing 
in  spirit  that  this  nun  in  a  short  time  was  to  fall  sick  and  die,  approach 
ing  the  mistress  of  novices,  told  her:  "Mother  Mistress,  your  teacher 
will  die  in  a  few  days."  The  mistress  was  both  shocked  and  grieved  at 
this  news,  and,  awaiting  the  confirmation  of  it,  saw  the  prediction 
verified  in  less  than  fifteen  days,  by  a  terrible  and  sudden  sickness,  which 
rapidly  carried  away  Sister  Maria  Grazia. 

At  the  death  of  a  fellow-sister  of  this  monastery  in  1594,  the  Saint, 
whilst  offering  prayers  for  the  repose  of  her  soul,  was  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
and  saw  her  in  the  glory  of  heaven.  Remaining  for  some  time  in  con 
templation,  she  finally  uttered,  as  if  in  amazement,  these  wordls  :  u  Oh  ! 
the  pillars  of  the  monastery  shake  !  "  And  turning  to  the  mother, 
Sister  Kvangelista,  who  was  present,  added  :  u  Thy  column  shall 
remain."  Coming  out  of  the  ecstasy,  and  being  asked  the  meaning  of 
these  expressions,  she  answered  that  the  Lord  had  shown  her  that  in 
a  short  time  four  mothers  of  the  council  of  that  monastery  were  to  die  : 
who  having  all  been  prioresses,  had  supported,  like  pillars,  the  good 
government  of  the  community  with  their  wisdom  and  experience ;  and 
that  she,  Sister  Hvangelista,  who  had  also  been  prioress,  would  survive 
them  many  years.  In  the  course  of  a  few  months  death  truly  overtook 
the  former  ones,  and  the  latter  survived  them  for  the  long  space  of  nearly 
thirty  years. 

A  young  lady  of  the  notable  Florentine  house  of  the  Gianfigliazzi, 
having  become  a  nun  in  the  monastery,  *  under  the  name  of  Sister 
Maria  Caterina,  when  the  time  for  her  profession  arrived,  although  in 
very  good  health,  she  was  told  by  the  Saint  that  she  would  not  live  long 
after  her  profession ;  and  this  was  verified  at  the  end  of  six  months. 
Three  days  after  the  death  of  Sister  Maria  Caterina,  whilst  our  Saint 
was  praying  for  her  soul,  she  saw  her  in  ecstasy  coming  out  of  purga 
tory  and  going  joyously  into  heaven.  She  understood  during  the  same 
ecstasy  that  Sister  Maria  Innocenzia  Dati,  who  also  was  a  young  novice, 
of  florid  and  robust  appearance,  would  very  soon  die.  Three  months 
afterwards  this  novice  was  no  longer  among  the  living.  Another  young 
sister  of  the  same  monastery,  Sister  Maria  Benedetta  Vettori,  being 
sick,  but  not  seriously  so,  our  Saint  foresaw  that  she  would  die  of  that 
illness,  and  made  it  known  to  a  sister  of  hers,  a  nun  also  in  the  same 
monastery,  in  these  words  :  "  What  wouldst  tliou  say  if  thy  sister 
would  die  ?  This  thought  cannot  but  sadden  thee  ;  but  it  is  necessary 
to  conform  to  God's  will."  Within  the  month  Sister  Maria  Benedetta's 
days  were  ended.  Mary  Magdalen  foretold,  to  another  nun  of  her  mon 
astery,  that  she  would  die  without  the  sacraments.  This  sister  was 
seized  with  great  fear  and  sadness,  as  she  knew  how  reliable  were  Sister 
Mary  Magdalen's  predictions,  and.  she  went  immediately  to  the  superioress 

She  frees  a  woman  from  the  devil  (page  97  ). 


with  the  sad  news ;  but  the  latter  told  her  to  keep  herself  prepared 
and  well  disposed.  It  so  happened  that,  before  a  long  time  had  elapsed, 
one  of  the  veins  in  her  breast  broke,  and  she  was  so  quickly  suffocated  by 
the  rush  of  blood  that  it  was  impossible  to  administer  the  sacraments 
to  her. 

When  the  Saint  was  in  her  last  illness,  Sister  Maria  Maddalena 
Berti,  already  mentioned,  begged  her  that,  if  the  Lord  would  call  her  to 
Himself,  she  would  come  three  days  afterwards  to  take  her  also  out  of 
this  world,  as  she  did  not  think  it  possible  to  survive  her  longer,  on 
account  of  the  great  affection  she  bore  her.  Sister  Alessandra  del 
Beccuto,  the  infirmary  nun — young,  healthy,  and  strong — hearing  these 
words,  and  almost  making  fun  of  them,  said  to  the  Saint:  "Mother, 
please  gratify  her;  take  her  along  with  thee  into  paradise."  At  these 
words,  the  Saint,  smiling,  turned  to  Sister  Berti,  and  told  her :  "  I  shall 
not  come  for  thee  ;  but  I  shall  certainly  come  for  Sister  Alessandra." 
About  a  year  after  this  prophecy  the  holy  mother  died,  and  two  months 
and  a  half  after  her  death  Sister  Alessandra  also  died. 

During  the  last  days  of  the  life  of  St.  Mary  Magdalen,  a  nun  of  her 
monastery,  Sister  Maria  Vittoria  Ridolfi,  a  promising  young  sister,  was 
sick.  Being  warmly  recommended  by  the  superioress  to  the  prayers  of 
the  Saint,  that  she  might  regain  her  health,  the  Saint  replied  with  this 
strong  assertion  :  "  It  is  the  will  of  God  that  she  should  die,  and  this  will 
happen  a  few  days  after  my  death."  The  death  of  the  Saint  followed 
shortly,  and  that  of  Sister  Maria  Vittoria  six  days  afterwards.  At  that 
same  time,  two  sick  men  being  recommended  to  the  prayers  of  the  Saint 
(one  of  them  was  Signer  Filippo  del  Caccia)  she  said :  "  The  Signor 
Filippo  will  die,  but  the  other  will  get  well."  And  it  so  happened. 

TIME  OF  THE  SAME. — Magdalen  being  the  mistress  of  novices  for  the 
first  time,  that  is  seven  years  before  her  death,  spoke  to  them  one  day 
in  such  a  manner  that  she  named  those  among  them  who  would  be 
present  at  her  death.  Those  who  did  not  hear  their  names  conjectured 
that  they  were  to  die  before  she  did  ;  hence  Sister  Elizabeth  Rabatti,  one 
whose  name  had  been  passed  over  in  silence,  to  remove  all  doubts,  said 
to  her:  u  Mother  mistress,  assist  me  at  my  death."  To  which  she  re 
plied  :  "  I  shall  be  living  at  the  time  of  thy  death,  but  unable  to  assist 
thee."  It  so  happened  that  all  the  novices  whose  names  had  not  been 
pronounced  died  before  Mary  Magdalen  did ;  and  Sister  Elizabeth  died 
precisely  at  the  time  when  our  Saint  was  so  overcome  by  her  own  sick 
ness  that  she  could  not  render  her  any  assistance.  When  the  physicians, 
after  having  given  up  all  hope  of  recovery,  judged  that  but  a  few  days  of 
life  were  left  to  St.  Mary  Magdalen,  they  requested  the  prioress  to  have 
Extreme  Unction  administered  to  her,  she,  hearing  this  news  and  the 
opinion  of  the  doctors,  said :  "  Be  assured,  mother  prioress,  that  I  shall 
not  die  so  soon,  as  my  time  has  not  yet  come."  She  survived  a  year 
longer  than  had  been  thought  possible  by  the  erroneous  judgment  of 
man's  science.  On  the  25th  of  April,  1607,  Sister  Orsola  died  in  the 
same  monastery,  and  as  soon  as  she  breathed  her  last,  some  nuns  went  to 
tell  i£  to  the  Saint,  who  was  sick  in  bed,  and  to  them  she  said  :  "  To-day 


a  month  I  will  die  too."  One  of  them  remarking  that  the  Ascension 
would  fall,  that  year  on  the  24th  of  May,  and  thinking  that  the  Saint 
was  to  die  on  that  day,  added  :  "I  would  not  like  that  thou  shouldst  die 
on  the  feast  of  the  Ascension."  To  which  our  seer  replied  in  a  tone  of 
certainty  :  "The  day  of  the  Ascension  I  will  be  here."  And  her  happy 
death,  in  fact,  took  place  on  the  25th  of  the  following  May,  one  day  after 
said  solemnity. 

TERY. — On  the  23d  of  March,  1584,  whilst  this  chosen  soul  was  alien 
ated  from  her  senses  after  sacramental  Communion,  there  appeared 
before  her  mind  a  beautiful  garden  with  many  trees,  some  larger  and 
some  smaller.  A  skillful  and  diligent  gardener  tilled  it  with  the  greatest 
profit,  when,  behold !  on  the  third  day  she  saw  a  squalid  and  gloomy 
person,  scythe  in  hand,  coming  from  afar,  and  striking  this  good 
guardian  on  the  legs  in  such  a  way  that  he  fell  to  the  ground,  seemingly 
unable  to  rise.  During  the  period  of  uncertainty  as  to  whether  the 
gardener  would  recover  or  not  from  his  fall,  another  gardener  was  pro 
posed,  who,  on  account  of  his  apparent  good  qualities  and  the  protec 
tions  with  which  he  seemed  to  be  covered,  was  commonly  regarded  as 
very  suitable ;  but  some  of  them  having  penetrated  his  spirit  and 
seen  and  made  known  something  unfavorable,  so  much  opposition  was 
raised  to  him,  especially  by  twelve  of  the  larger  trees,  that  he  was  not 
accepted,  nor  could  he  enter  the  garden.  Then  another  one  was  pro 
posed,  who,  though  good  in  himself,  yet  was  not  suitable  for  the  cultiva 
tion  of  such  a  garden  ;  hence  this  one  was  also  rejected.  In  order  to 
get  rid  of  these  two,  especially  the  first  one,  much  energy  had  to  be 
used.  The  wise  gardener  having  now  recovered  from  his  fall,  returned 
to  his  former  occupation,  to  the  ever-increasing  advantage  of  the  garden. 
The  person  with  the  scythe  repeated  at  other  times  the  attacks  on  him, 
and  finally  succeeded  in  striking  him  so  severely  that  he  did  not  again 
recover.  Then  the  greater  part  of  the  trees  fell,  and  all  of  them  were 
shaken,  with  the  exception  of  the  twelve  above  alluded  to,  which  were 
so  well  rooted  and  fixed  that  not  only  did  they  not  shake  in  the  least, 
but  through  their  influence  became  of  such  assistance  to  the  others  that 
in  a  short  time  all  of  them  arose  who  had  fallen  to  the  ground.  The 
meaning  of  the  vision  was  this :  The  garden  represented  the  monastery; 
the  twelve  trees  meant  twelve  Religious  who  were  the  most  perfect ;  the 
gardener  was  the  father  confessor,  Rev.  Agostino  Cam  pi,  and  the  three 
days  signified  that  he  was  yet  to  live  three  years,  at  the  end  of  which  time 
he  would  be  struck  by  so  serious  an  illness  as  to  make  one  doubt  of  his 
recovery;  but  that,  through  the  mercy  of  God,  recovering,  he  would 
yet  live  some  time  to  the  spiritual  advantage  of  the  monastery,  though 
from  time  to  time  his  life  might  be  in  danger.  It  so  happened  that,  in 
the  midst  of  frequent  dangers,  he  lived  four  years  longer,  that  is,  until 
the  5th  of  June,  1591.  During  his  last  illness  the  Saint,  with  the 
warmest  fervor,  begged  the  Divine  Clemency  that  he  might  be  spared 
to  her  till  the  feast  of  the  Assumption  of  the  Blessed  Virgin.  After 
many  prayers,  she  heard  interiorly  from  the  Lord,  that  though  he  would 
not  be  alive  on  the  day  of  said  solemnity,  yet  he  would  live  as  long  as 
would  be  necessary  for  the  peace  and  good  direction  of  the  monasterv. 


So  it  happened  ;  as,  having  received  Extreme  Unction  on  the  second  day 
of  Pentecost,  and  whilst  his  loss  was  commonly  regarded  as  imminent 
and  irreparable,  there  was  danger  that  he  would  be  replaced  by  one  of 
those  above  mentioned,  with  serious  harm  to  the  monastery  on  account 
of  their  relative  incapacity.  But  God,  who  does  not  speak  in  vain  to  the 
hearts  of  his  beloved  ones,  made  Campi  recover  from  his  illness,  and 
improve  so  far  as  to  be  able  to  hear  the  confessions  of  the  nuns  on 
the  feast  of  Corpus  Christi,  and  also  give  them  Holy  Communion. 
In  the  meantime,  the  monastery  was  altogether  freed  from  the  above- 
mentioned  danger,  thus  verifying  all  the  Lord  had  foretold  this  blessed 
mother.  The  vision  continued  in  the  following  manner:  There  were 
rooted  in  the  garden  three  hearts;  but  there  was  only  one  into  which 
God  infused  and  distilled  an  agreeable  and  sweet  dew,  which  thoroughly 
fertilized  it.  These  three  hearts,  she  understood,  belonged  to  three 
priests,  two  of  whom  loved  the  monastery  spiritually,  and  had  much 
confidence  in  Campi ;  and  the  third  one  had  been  the  extraordinary  con 
fessor  of  it,  by  order  of  the  Most  Eminent  Archbishop.  The  dew  which 
she  saw  being  infused  into  this  heart  was  the  grace  of  God,  with  which  he 
was  to  nourish  and  well  direct  the  souls  entrusted  to  him ;  because  of  which 
the  holy  mother  was  well  pleased,  rejoicing  in  the  Divine  Providence 
that  with  so  much  art  and  love  had  predisposed  the  spirit  of  this  priest 
for  the  benefit  of  the  nuns.  During  this  vision  she  saw  also  the  soul  of 
Rev.  Agostino  Campi  being  raised  up  to  celestial  glory,  and  bearing  as  a 
special  ornament  a  red  stole,  the  reward  due  to  a  martyr.  She  understood 
that  such  a  distinctive  mark  had  been  given  him  for  three  reasons:  first, 
for  the  infirmities  he  had  virtuously  borne  ;  secondly,  for  the  persecution 
which  he  encountered,  and  which  he  endured  with  much  constancy  and 
patience;  thirdly,  for  the  burning  desire  which  he  felt,  during  life,  to 
submit  in  reality  to  the  pains  of  martyrdom.  That  soul  afterwards 
appeared  to  her  as  if  addressing  to  his  successor,  Rev.  Francesco  Ben- 
venuti,  these  words:  "I  labored  much  to  cultivate  that  vineyard  and 
garden;  now  it  is  thy  turn."  And,  turning  to  the  Most  Holy  Trinity, 
he  paid  homage  and  begged  that  an  abundance  of  grace  would  be 
given  to  Benvenuti,  in  order  that  he  also  might  continue  in  that 
spiritual  cultivation.  Here  it  seemed  as  if  Campi  had  eviscerated  him 
self  in  behalf  of  his  successor,  and  poured  into  him  all  the  virtues  which 
he  had  practiced  during  life  in  order  to  bring  to  perfection  all  the  souls 
entrusted  to  him.  The  facts  well  prove  that  Benvenuti  was  moved  by 
an  instantaneous  and  irresistible  impulse  to  conform  himself,  as  far  as 
possible,  to  the  sentiments  and  practices  of  his  predecessor,  especially  in 
regard  to  the  frequenting  of  the  sacraments,  although  many  other  inter 
ests  often  called  him  elsewhere.  At  another  time  the  Saint  saw  our 
Ivord,  who,  from  among  many  priests,  was  selecting  two  for  the 
monastery ;  one  of  whom  He  was  taking  out  of  the  wilderness, 
and  the  other  from  among  the  people,  and  both  of  whom  He  was 
holding  by  the  hair.  The  second  was  given  to  the  monastery 
before  the  first  one ;  and  this  was  verified  in  the  person  of  Ben 
venuti,  who  was  chosen  confessor  and  director,  although  he  was 
very  much  bound  to  society  by  many  occupations.  She  saw  the  other 
one  resting  in  a  place  where  he  was  doing  much  good ;  but  he  was  kept 

132  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

there  until  the  time  when  he  would  be  given  to  the  monastery.  This 
happened  in  the  person  of  Rev.  Vincenzo  Puccini,  a  man  who  was 
leading  an  hermitical  life,  and  who  succeeded  Benvenuti  after  the  latter's 
death.  She  also  understood  how  these  two  fathers  were  to  feed  the 
souls  of  the  nuns,  and  govern  the  monastery  according  to  the  spirit  of 
the  Society  of  Jesus  ;  and  so  both  of  them  did. 

She  saw,  moreover,  a  most  beautiful  garden,  in  the  midst  of  which 
was  planted  a  noble  and  resplendent  tree  laden  with  divers  fruits,  some 
small,  some  large  ;  some  sour,  some  neither  sour  nor  altogether  ripe ; 
some  very  beautiful  and  well  seasoned,  distilling  their  sweetness  into 
others,  but  this  was  hindered  by  some  cobwebs  which  enveloped  the 
tree.  By  the  garden-gate  someone  was  coming  in  with  a  mattock  and 
a  cross  on  his  shoulder,  and  a  game-pouch  with  many  little  pockets  full 
of  various  seeds,  which  he  would  sow  in  the  garden  with  great  care  and 
love.  She  understood  the  garden  to  be  her  monastery.  The  tree 
planted  in  the  midst  of  it,  bearing  a  variety  of  fruits,  signified  the  differ 
ent  profits  of  every  nun  ;  for  some,  like  little  fruits,  were  wanting  in 
those  virtues  which  are  required  by  religious  perfection  ;  others,  like 
sour  fruits,  would  not  let  the  regular  discipline  make  them  perfect ;  and 
finally,  others,  by  the  continuous  exercise  of  the  real  and  true  virtues, 
and  the  union  with  God,  were  like  very  beautiful  fruits,  seasoned  and 
savory,  distilling  the  sweetness  of  their  words  and  actions  into  their 
companions,  though  some  imperfections  then  existing  in  the  com 
munity  prevented  this  distillation  from  reaching  its  proper  end.  She 
understood  that  he  who  was  entering  with  mattock  and  cross  on  his 
shoulder  was^  Benvenuti,  who  again,  with  the  weight  of  the  government 
of  the  monastery  and  the  souls  in  it,  was  going  to  cultivate  this  garden, 
sowing  therein  his  doctrine,  his  counsel  and  advice,  both  for  the  general 
good  of  the  community  and  the  individual  need  of  every  one.  She 
also  understood  how  those  cobwebs, — that  is,  those  imperfections- 
caused  great  displeasure  to  this  gardener  ;  and  that,  unless  they  were 
brushed  away,  as  the  Saint  afterwards  declared  to  the  mother  prioress, 
she  feared  they  might  prevent  the  realization  of  the  ardent  and  anxious 
desire  of  perfection  which  this  father  entertained,  and  that  his  diligent 
concern  might  remain  fruitless  through  the  fault  of  others. 

The  said  garden  presented  two  circuits  of  buildings  :  one  very 
spacious,  but  not  high  ;  the  other  narrow,  but  very  high.  The  first  was 
the  one  spiritually  built  by  Father  Campi — large  and  spacious,  he  having 
been  many  years  in  the  government  of  the  monastery  ;  but  not  high,  as 
he  had  to  do  much  in  laying  the  foundations,  that  is,  introducing  many 
things  of  essential  religious  obligation  ;  so  that  he  was  prevented  from 
attending  as  fully  as  he  would  have  wished  to  the  sublimity  of  the  interior 
perfection,  especially  among  the  generality  of  the  nuns.  The  other  circuit 
was  that  which  Rev.  Francesco  Benvenuti  was  to  build — not  large,  for  he 
was  not,  as  the  Saint  foresaw,  to  live  many  years  in  the  spiritual  direction 
of  the  monastery ;  but  of  a  height  far  superior  to  that  of  the  first  one, 
as  he  would  lead  the  souls,  already  well  prepared,  to  a  much  more 
elevated  perfection  ;  and  in  the  meantime,  gathering  to  himself  all  that 
the  other  had  formerly  built,  he  would  introduce  the  souls  into  a  gen 
eral  storehouse,  and  inebriate  them  with  the  wine  of  cheerfulness,  which 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  133 

is  the  divine  love ;  and  then  he  would  lead  each  one  into  a  particular 
storehouse.  He  would  lead  them  into  the  first  by  the  perfect  observ 
ance  of  the  three  vows,  through  the  influence  of  his  zeal ;  and  into  the 
second,  by  means  of  the  great  assistance  he  would  lend  to  each  one  that 
she  might  correspond  with  fidelity  to  her  own  vocation.  Here  appeared 
to  the  Saint  a  mountain  so  high  that  its  summit  could  not  be  discerned 
by  the  human  eye  ;  this  was  the  mountain  of  perfection,  towards  which 
the  same  father  was  directing  them  ;  and,  as  they  walked  towards  it,  she 
noticed  some  moving  with  great  swiftness  and  without  any  impediment, 
others  more  slowly  and  interruptedly,  others  were  made  to  fall  by  the 
wind  of  their  passions,  and  others  were  drawn  back  by  the  weight  of 
their  garments,  viz.,  their  vicious  habits  ;  and  those  who  fell  were  taken 
by  the  same  father  into  his  arms,  and,  with  great  love,  replaced  and  led 
up  in  the  direction  of  the  mountain  by  means  of  his  spiritual  help. 
The  Lord  gave  her  to  understand  how  our  adversaries,  the  demons, 
could  not  harm  said  Benvenuti,  as  he  was  always  accompanied  by 
St.  Francis  the  Seraphic  and  St.  Catherine  of  Siena,  who,  on  account 
of  the  special  devotion  he  had  towards  them,  defended  him  in  a  manner 
wholly  insuperable,  one  with  the  cross,  and  the  other  with  the  precious 
blood  of  Jesus  and  the  crown  of  thorns. 

In  the  same  year,  1591,  as  Easter  was  approaching,  she  saw  at 
another  time,  in  spirit,  the  garden  of  her  Religion,  which,  through  the 
care  of  the  gardener,  was  very  prosperous,  its  trees  and  fruits  being  beau 
tiful  and  exquisite ;  but  one  had  to  take  care  not  to  lower  the  branches 
to  the  ground  lest  they  should  be  gnawed  by  the  grubs  ;  though  even 
for  that  the  gardener  had  a  remedy,  as  by  the  burning  fire  of  charity  and 
zeal  for  the  salvation  of  souls,  he  killed  and  exterminated  those  larvae. 
"  If  I,"  said  she  in  an  ecstasy,  "  had  to  paint  the  gardener  of  this  place, 
I  would  not  represent  him  in  the  habit  he  wears,  but  in  the  garb  of  the 
prophets ;  he  who  saw  them  knows  how  it  is ;  and,  as  his  wishes  rest 
in  a  firm  place,  I  would  give  him  Nazaritic  locks,  and  put  in  his  right 
hand  a  globe,  and,  instead  of  those  two  little  points,  I  would  fix  there 
the  knowledge  of  himself  and  of  God  ;  and,  instead  of  the  little  shovel, 
which  is  in  the  middle,  I  would  put  a  Crucifix ;  and  instead  of  the 
signs  which  indicate  all  the  movements  of  the  sun  around  the  globe, 
I  would  place  all  the  potential  virtues,  viz.,  charity,  obedience,  humility, 
patience,  knowledge  of  God  and  one's  self,  as  this  is  what  I  am  philoso 
phizing  about.  In  his  left  hand  I  would  put  a  book  full  of  the  various 
flowers  and  sweet  fruits  of  the  texts  and  authorities  of  the  Sacred  Scrip 
tures,  together  with  the  Epistles  of  St.  Paul,  in  which  so  many  times  is 
mentioned  the  mellifluous  name  of  Jesus,  which  he  wishes  to  have  im 
pressed  in  his  heart  and  in  the  heart  of  all  creatures.  I  am  not  afraid 
of  being  deceived  in  judging  the  inmost  desire  of  this  gardener's  heart, 
as  I  am  sure  he  has  no  other  end  in  view  but  the  salvation  of  souls." 

Some  days  afterwards,  being  rapt  in  spirit,  she  saw  the  demons 
who  had  plotted  together  to  attack  and  destroy  this  garden ;  and,  as  the 
loving  God  had  increased  His  gifts  therein,  and  the  spiritual  means  of 
loving  and  serving  Him,  so  they  redoubled  the  hatred  and  the  tempta 
tions  upon  the  Religious,  to  prevent,  above  all,  the  profit  which  Benvenuti 
would  have  brought  to  them.  Hence,  she  saw  more  distinctly  than  at 

134  THS    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

any  other  time,  as  we  have  said,  the  monastery  filled  with  devils  in  every 
place  except  the  chapter,  which  they  could  not  enter  on  account 
of  the  acts  of  humiliation  practiced  there.  They  employed  all  their 
malignity  to  harm  the  sisters.  In  the  room  set  apart  to  receive  Holy 
Communion  and  hear  the  word  of  God  they  interposed  many  obstruc 
tions,  that  is,  they  tried  to  cloud  their  intellects  and  to  fill  their  hearts 
with  vain  thoughts,  so  that  they  might  not  know  the  great  union  which 
is  made  with  God  in  that  act,  and,  instead  of  appreciating  the  immense 
grace  and  the  ineffable  efficacy  of  His  word,  they  would  go  there  thought 
lessly  and  as  if  from  habit.  The  devils  also  tempted  them,  by  means  of 
various  artifices,  to  abstain  from  the  Eucharistic  Food  ;  and,  when  any 
of  the  sisters  would  succumb,  the  demons  would  make  a  great  feast  and 
swear  at  them.  In  the  work-hall,  besides  insinuating  negligence  and 
torpor  to  the  detriment  of  religious  poverty,  they  would  incite  them  to 
useless  discourses,  and  sometimes  even  to  such  discourses  as  were  inju 
rious  to  the  charity  of  their  neighbors.  While  in  the  refectory,  she  saw 
a  demon  at  the  door,  who,  as  the  sisters  came  in,  gave  them  some 
vials  to  smell,  and  many  demons  incited  them  to  a  dislike  for  mortifica 
tion,  tempting  them  not  to  pay  any  attention  to  the  reading,  or  else  to 
murmur  inwardly  about  the  quality  of  the  food  and  to  desire  more 
delicacies.  But  the  strongest  and  most  pressing  temptation  in  all 
places  and  at  all  hours  tended  to  distraction,  and  consequently  to  the 
abuse  of  speech,  resulting  in  a  breach  of  the  most  sacred  duty  binding  a 
person  living  in  a  religious  community.  The  victorious  demons  then 
seemed  to  play  ball  with  the  vanquished  heart. 

On  another  day,  she  saw  that,  as  Benvenuti  was  nearing  the  entrance 
of  the  monastery  to  hear  confessions  or  to  preach,  a  demon  gave  to 
many  of  his  companions  the  sign  to  enter  also.  The  office  of  some  of 
them  was  to  represent  his  words  and  the  perfection  he  was  teaching  as 
something  nearly  impossible  to  practice ;  others  would  see  that  his  words 
were  heard  as  if  by  chance,  without  considering  them  or  applying 
them  to  one's  self;  others  would  see  that  all  the  confessor  said  should  be 
received  with  contempt.  But,  at  the  end,  she  saw  that,  if  many  and 
many  more  were  the  demons  in  every  place  tempting  and  trying  to  dis 
tract  the  nuns  from  the  road  to  perfection,  greater  by  far  was  the  num 
ber  of  the  angels  whom  the  most  compassionate  God  was  sending  to 
their  help,  so  that,  fighting  with  undaunted  constancy,  they  might 
triumph.  This  victory  generally  was  achieved  to  the  great  benefit  of 
those  souls,  both  through  the  example  and  the  prayers  of  our  Saint, 
and  through  the  zeal  and  solicitude  of  the  virtuous  Benvenuti. 

Together  with  the  favor  of  seeing  the  state  of  souls  in  the  future  life 
and  things  absent  and  to  be,  God  granted  her  the  gift  of  clearly  penetrating 
hidden  thoughts  and  secrets  of  the  heart,  which  gift,  on  account  of  the 
many  instances  that  happened,  especially  to  the  novices  and  the  young 
ladies  entrusted  to  her  care  in  the  monastery,  was  so  well  known  and  certain 
that  these  and  even  the  professed  nuns  would  examine  their  consciences 
before  going  into  her  presence ;  and  whilst  before  her,  they  would  take 
the  greatest  care  not  to  admit  a  thought  for  which  they  might  have  to 
blush.  They  could  not,  without  trouble  of  mind,  endure  her  presence 
when  their  conscience  reproached  them  for  even  the  most  hidden  fault. 

ST.   MARY   MAGDALEN    DE-PA2ZI.  135 

Many  and  wonderful  were  the  instances  proving  the  existence  of  such  a 
privilege  during  the  time  she  filled  the  various  offices  in  Religion,  as  we 
shall  see  in  the  progress  of  this  Life,  limiting  ourselves  here  to  relate  the 
following : — 



Elizabeth  Migliorini,  a  Modenese  gentlewoman  of  exemplary  life,  and  who 
greatly  loved,  esteemed,  and  cherished  the  sanctity  of  our  Magdalen,  at  the 
examination  of  witnesses  for  her  beatification  deposed  as  follows :  A  duel 
had  taken  place  in  Florence  between  persons  who  enjoyed  the  confidence 
of  this  gentlewoman  and  were  dear  to  her.  One  of  these  persons  was 
fatally  wounded,  and  before  he  expired  Elizabeth  anxiously  went  to  the 
Saint  that  she  might  obtain  for  the  unhappy  wretch  time  for  repentance, 
and  that,  if  it  pleased  God,  the  deed  might  remain  unknown  to  the 
justice  of  this  world.  The  Saint  was  called,  and  as  soon  as  she  appeared 
at  the  parlor  grates  was  rapt  in  an  ecstasy,  during  which,  seeing  in  spirit 
what  had  occurred  and  the  gentlewoman's  object  in  coming  to  her, 
without  hearing  a  word,  suddenly  spoke  as  follows :  u  Elizabeth,  fear  not, 
as  the  Blessed  Virgin  has  covered  this  sin  with  her  man-tie,  and  the  blood 
of  Jesus  Christ  has  washed  and  forgiven  it.  Tell  them  (those  between 
whom  the  quarrel  had  occurred)  to  remain  in  faith,  charity,  and  humility, 
as  everything  is  settled."  Elizabeth  was  pleased  at  hearing  this  and 
had  the  satisfaction  of  seeing  it  in  fact,  as  far  as  could  morally  be 
wished  for.  The  wounded  man,  touched  by  real  repentance,  gave  the 
kiss  of  peace  to  his  adversary ;  and,  having  received  the  sacraments  and 
other  consolations  of  the  Church,  died  in  perfect  tranquillity.  The  duel 
remained  so  secret  that  no  legal  knowledge  of  it  reached  the  magistrate, 
and  the  parties  became  reconciled  and  voluntarily  extinguished  every 
spark  of  discord. 

At  another  time  a  very  ugly  thing,  which  used  to  happen  at  a  devout 
gathering  of  pious  persons,  was  related  in  confidence  to  this  same 
gentlewoman  for  her  advice.  The  perpetrators  were  unknown.  Eliza 
beth  was  not  slow  in  going  to  the  Saint,  who,  being  called  to  the  parlor 
and  there  becoming  alienated  from  her  senses,  before  she  heard  anything, 
began  to  exclaim,  with  a  sad  countenance  and  in  a  troubled  voice, 
that  she  was  seeing  enormous  filths  and  horrid  things,  smelling  the 
intolerable  stench  of  sin,  that  God  would  reveal  all,  and  that  she 
also  (Elizabeth)  would  see  the  delinquent,  and  afterwards  all  would  be 
remedied.  The  noble  Elizabeth,  being  greatly  amazed,  gave  thanks 
to  God,  who  so  profitably  communicated  her  secrets  to  St.  Mary  Mag 
dalen,  and  became  more  and  more  confirmed  in  her  opinion  of  the 
sanctity  of  this  venerable  mother.  Shortly  after,  the  guilty  party  became 
known,  and  a  complete  cure  of  the  disorder  was  easily  effected. 

The  Pope,  not  as  Vicar  of  Christ,  but  as  a  man  armed  with  a  sword,1 
was  debating  some  issues  with  the  Duke  of  Ferrara.  Elizabeth 
wished  to  see  the  end  of  the  disputes,  which  were  inevitably  scandalous 
and  harmful  to  society,  and  for  this  object  she  vowed  to  visit  the 
miraculous  Madonna  di  Reggio,  in  Lombardy.  Taking  counsel  from 

1  Temporal  ruler.— The  Translator* 

136  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

the  Saint  at  the  parlor  grates  about  the  fulfillment  of  this  vow,  she  saw 
her  in  ecstasy,  and  heard  her  saying  to  herself:  "On  thy  return  take 
care,  as  the  devil  wishes  to  harm  thee  ; "  and  she  added,  that  she  should 
bring  back  the  image  of  Saint  Hyacinthe,  to  whom  she  was  devoted,  and 
also  some  relics.  Elizabeth  followed  the  holy  counsel,  and,  having  visited 
this  Madonna,  on  recrossing  the  Alps  of  Bologna  experienced  the  work 
of  the  devil.  The  horse  she  was  riding,  having  broken  the  bridle 
through  some  unknown  cause,  began  to  run  so  wildly  that  every  means 
to  check  him  became  of  no  avail,  and  the  unhappy  rider  was  thrown  from 
the  saddle  and  fell  backward,  but  in  such  a  manner  as  to  remain  with  a 
foot  entangled  in  the  stirrup.  Thus  she  was  dragged  by  the  horse  for 
many  yards  over  the  uneven  and  stony  ground,  so  that  those  who 
accompanied  her  expected  to  find  her,  if  not  dead,  certainly  badly 
bruised.  But  she  did  not  feel  hurt  in  the  least  ;  for  which,  giving 
profuse  thanks  to  God,  she  acknowledged  that  the  means  of  her  protec 
tion  were  the  sanctity  and  counsel  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen. 

This  lady  having  resolved,  for  economic  reasons,  to  settle  perma 
nently  in  Modena,  before  quitting  Florence  went  to  the  Saint  to  bid  her 
good-bye.  Having  acquainted  her  with  her  intention  of  leaving 
Florence,  Magdalen  gave  her  this  answer,  as  short  as  it  was  determined  : 
"Thou  shalt  go  and  return."  Elizabeth  bowed  her  head  like  one 
resigned  to  a  possibility,  but  without  seeing  any  reason  for  its  realiza 
tion.  She  left  for  Modena,  but,  after  a  year's  absence,  was  recalled 
to  Florence,  by  order  of  the  most  serene  Grand  Duchess  of  Tuscany,  to 
wait  on  Lady  Irensea  Pica  Salviati,  sister  of  the  Duke  of  Mirandola,  who 
was  troubled  with  sore  eyes.  Elizabeth  therefore  having  returned, 
found  that  the  afflicted  Lady  Irensea  had  lost  one  eye  entirely  and  the 
other  was  so  blackened  and  bruised  that  she  could  see  nothing,  and 
there  was  no  hope  of  improvement.  In  the  midst  of  so  great  an 
affliction,  having  consulted  together,  both  the  patient  and  her  assistant 
remembered  the  efficacy  of  our  Saint's  prayers.  Elizabeth  went  to  her, 
and,  filled  with  sentiments  of  wonder  and  veneration  because  of  what  she 
had  foretold  her  a  year  before,  related  to  the  Saint  what  was  then  passing, 
and  very  warmly  recommended  to  her  the  sad  case.  Magdalen  answered 
thus:  " Tell  Lady  Irensea  to  recommend  herself  to  St.  Francis  and  to 
visit  the  image  of  the  most  holy  Annunziata.  Both  of  you  dress  in 
gray  for  a  year,  out  of  devotion  to  St.  Francis,  and  the  Lord  will  give 
her  back  the  sight  of  both  eyes  as  formerly."  On  the  morrow  both 
of  them  began  to  follow  the  advice  of  the  Saint  with  respectful 
confidence  ;  and  on  the  same  day  Lady  Irenaea  began  to  improve.  The 
improvement  continuing  day  after  day,  in  a  short  time  her  eyesight  was 
restored  and  she  enjoyed  her  former  good  health,  protesting  herself 
eternally  obliged  to  the  mother,  Sister  Mary  Magdalen. 


WAS  HIDING  WITH  REGARD  To  HER  VOCATION. — A  very  marvelous 
thing  of  this  kind  was  that  which  happened  to  a  daughter  of  Dr.  Car- 
lini,  of  Florence — Leonora,  by  name.  In  November  of  1591  this  young 
lady  entered  the  monastery  of  St.  Maria  degli  Angeli  with  apparent 
curiosity,  intending  to  remain  there  for  a  certain  time,  if  pleased  with  it. 
It  is  true,  she  wished  to  become -a  nun,  and  that  was  the  real  motive  for 


her  entering ;  but  she  neither  said  it  then  nor  had  she  ever  yet  manifested 
to  anyone  this  tendency.  In  the  meantime,  it  happened  that,  on  the  very 
first  evening  after  entering,  whilst  in  the  company  of  Sister  Mary  Magda 
len  and  several  other  nnns,  the  Saint  was  rapt  in  ecstasy,  and  in  that  state 
began  to  speak,  saying  that  she  had  seen  the  guardian  angel  of  Leonora, 
holding  in  his  hands  a  ladder,  the  top  of  which  reached  heaven,  but 
he  kept  it  in  suspense,  as  if  not  knowing  where  to  rest  it;  and,  as  she 
was  thus  looking  at  this  angel,  she  saw  at  his  side  St.  Francis,  St. 
Dominic,  and  St.  Angelo  the  Carmelite,  conferring  and  almost  disputing 
among  themselves  as  to  the  spot  whereon  the  angel  was  to  lean  the  lad 
der,  each  one  of  them  wishing  him  to  lean  it  upon  his  own  Religious 
Order.  The  Saint,  admiring  so  amiable  and  pleasant  a  dispute,  and  feel 
ing  inclined  to  see  the  victory  on  the  side  of  St.  Angelo,  as  the  patron 
of  her  own  Order,  heard  that  the  Lord  Jesus  Christ  commanded  the 
guardian  angel  of  Leonora  to  rest  the  ladder  on  the  monastery  of  St. 
Maria  degli  Angeli  in  Florence ;  therefore,  turning  to  the  maid,  she 
frankly  spoke  to  her:  "  Thy  guardian  angel  has  rested  the  ladder  on  this 
monastery ;  it  is  the  will  of  God  that  thou  become  a  nun  here,  and  thou 
wilt  overcome  all  the  difficulties  thou  wilt  encounter."  Leonora,  con 
fronted  with  so  precise  a  declaration  of  God's  will,  and  finding  her 
thoughts  so  marvelously  unraveled,  fixed  on  this  monastery  and  nowhere 
else  the  vague  idea  of  becoming  a  nun.  After  a  ten-days'  retreat  in  the 
same,  she  returned  to  the  paternal  residence,  where  for  the  first  time  she 
ingenuously  made  known  her  new  resolution.  This  was  so  much  opposed 
by  her  father  and  brothers  that,  on  an  evening  of  the  following  January, 
she  thought  of  relenting  and  going  without  delay  to  her  father  to  attest 
her  submission  to  him  and  to  place  herself  entirely  in  his  hands.  But  at 
the  moment  of  passing  out  of  her  room  with  such  a  thought,  she  felt 
herself  pushed  back  by  an  invisible  force.  This  happened  again  the 
second  and  third  time  that  she  made  the  attempt ;  so  that,  acknowledg 
ing  this  as  a  supernatural  opposition,  she  was  more  and  more  confirmed 
in  her  intention  of  becoming  a  nun,  despite  all  human  hindrances.  On 
this  same  evening,  and  at  the  same  hour,  which  was  one  hour  after  dark, 
the  mother,  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  alienated  from  her  senses,  pronounced 
these  words:  "That  dove  wants  to  fly;  keep  her,  O  Lord;"  and  three 
times  she  repeated :  "  Keep  her,  O  Lord."  Having  returned  to  her  senses, 
and  being  questioned  by  the  usual  superioresses,  she  related  that  she 
had  seen  this  young  lady,  under  the  form  of  a  dove,  about  to  leave  her 
vocation;  but  that  God  had  so  assisted  her  that  this  would  not  happen. 
On  the  following  day  the  nuns  sent  for  the  girl,  in  order  to  find  out  what 
had  happened  to  her  the  evening  previous.  When  she  reached  the  par 
lor,  she  told  what  has  been  related  above,  and  the  nuns  in  turn  informed 
her  of  the  contemporaneous  vision  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen.  Leonora 
was  most  grateful  to  God  for  this  coincidence  and  the  mediation  of  the 
Saint,  and  she  corresponded  so  faithfully  to  the  divine  call,  that  by 
means  of  virtuous  acts  she  succeeded  in  obtaining  the  permission  of 
her  father  and  brothers,  and  in  a  short  time  she  became  a  Carmelite 
nun  in  the  monastery  of  St.  Maria  degli  Angeli. 

RECEIVES  THE  RELIGIOUS  HABIT. — Whilst  Mass  was  being  sung  for  the 

138  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

taking  of  the  religious  habit  by  a  girl,  the  venerable  Magdalen,  being 
rapt  in  ecstasy,  saw  the  Lord  granting  this  girl  many  gifts  and  graces. 
At  every  Kyrie  eleison  a  choir  of  angels  descended.  At  the  epistle  God 
confirmed  all  the  graces  to  the  Religious  which  had  been  communicated 
to  them  in  the  beginning,  and  even  increased  them.  At  the  gospel  the 
Lord  gave  many  rich  ornaments  to  her  who  was  about  to  receive  the 
sacred  habit ;  afterwards  she  saw  a  cherub  with  a  book  in  his  hands, 
who,  whilst  the  novice  was  singing  "/  am  the  handmaid  of  the  Lord^ 
wrote  in  it  these  same  words  and  those  which  she  uttered  at  the  end  of 
the  ceremony.  This,  she  understood,  was  done  by  the  angels  with  all 
the  Religious,  in  order  to  show  to  them,  on  the  day  of  judgment,  to  their 
greater  joy  or  confusion,  all  that  was  implied  in  an  act  so  solemn  and 
important.  No  sooner  had  this  girl  taken  the  habit,  than  another  angel 
of  the  choir  of  the  seraphim  appeared,  holding  in  his  hands  the  Life 
Record  of  the  Religious.  This  angel  reading,  related  to  the  Saint  all 
the  good  this  girl  had  done  till  that  hour,  her  wish  to  enter  in  Religion 
and  become  the  bride  of  Jesus,  and  all  her  good  thoughts,  wishes,  and 
affections ;  then  he  wrote  down  the  good  works  and  the  profit  she  was  to 
make  in  the  religious  life.  Finally,  in  capital  letters,  he  marked  the 
book  with  the  name  taken  by  the  novice  in  this  new  baptism.  Magda 
len,  having  been  for  a  while  silent,  with  a  full  understanding  of  the 
interior  dispositions  of  the  soul  of  this  young  lady,  recommended  to 
God  all  the  Religious,  and  sinners,  and  then  caine  out  of  the  ecstasy. 





]PTER  relating  the  wonderful  favors  which  God  granted  this 
holy  soul,  it  is  befitting  to  show  with  what  candor  and 
purity  her  heart  was  enriched.  It  is  only  reasonable  to 
believe  that  God  does  not  so  intimately  communicate  Him 
self  except  to  lilies  of  immaculate  purity  and  real  sanctity. 
During  her  whole  life  Magdalen  gave  evident  proofs  of  the 
candor  and  innocence  of  her  habits  and  affections.  One 
day  she  was  speaking  to  a  sister  of  the  pleasure  and  delight 
with  which  she  used  to  embrace  and  hold  to  her  bosom  the  little  chil 
dren  of  her  tenantry,  whom  she  had  instructed  in  the  Christian  doctrine, 
when,  while  yet  a  girl,  she  had  visited  the  villa.  The  sister,  as  if  jesting, 
or  out  of  curiosity  to  hear  what  answer  the  Saint  would  give  her,  said 
to  her:  "Mother,  it  may  have  been  a  fault  to  have  taken  so  much  delight 
in  so  doing. "  At  which  the  good  mother,  overcome  by  a  holy  fear  of 
having  offended  God  therein,  asked  the  sister  to  tell  her  frankly  of  what 
fault  she  deemed  her  guilty.  The  sister  replied:  "It  depends  on  the 
intention  thou  hadst  in  it."  And  then  Magdalen,  with  as  much  humility 
as  frankness,  answered:  ''For  no  other  reason  did  I  delight  in  those 
little  children  than  because  they  represented  to  me  Jesus  at  that  age,  and 
also  because  of  the  purity  and  innocence  which  is  found  in  them." 

So  great  was  the  simplicity,  the  candor,  the  humility,  the  meekness, 
the  sincerity,  and  the  frankness  of  her  words  and  of  her  works,  and 
especially  the  humble  and  pure  faith  Magdalen  always  had,  that  of  a  truth 
a  child  could  not  have  had  more.  These  dispositions,  instead  of  diminish 
ing,  rather  increased  and  became  perfect  in  her  as  she  advanced  in  years ; 
so  that,  in  her  old  age  and  in  the  maturity  of  her  excellent  virtues,  her  life 
was  an  exemplification  of  the  blessed  childhood  promised  of  old  to  the 
Church  of  Christ  by  Isaias  the  prophet,  and  commended  by  our  Divine 
Saviour  even  to  the  oldest  of  His  followers ;  and  without  which,  He 
asserts,  no  one  can  have  a  place  in  His  heavenly  kingdom.  Magdalen 
never  had  a  strong  earthly  affection,  nor  hatred,  nor  rancor,  nor  love  of 
worldly  goods.  She  always  believed  everyone,  as  a  child  does,  even  without 
understanding,  and  she  never  contradicted  anybody.  Her  conversation, 
moved  by  simplicity  coupled  with  prudence,  could  not  but  render  her 

140  THE    UFFy    AND   WORKS   OF 

more  amiable  and  estimable  every  day.  Her  actions  were  never  over 
shadowed  by  a  secondary  or  worldly  end.  Sometimes  she  was  heard  to 
say:  "If  I  thought  that  I  might  become  a  shining  seraph  by  speaking 
a  single  word  with  any  other  purpose  than  the  love  of  God,  even  though 
He  would  not  be  offended  by  it,  I  would  not  utter  it."  What  a  sublime 
sentiment  of  purity  !  And  if  it  occasionally  happened  that  in  some  of  her 
actions  she  doubted  the  purity  of  the  end,  she  interrupted  the  work,  leav 
ing  it  unfinished  until  she  became  certain  of  having  directed  it  also  to  the 
glory  of  God,  as  she  intended  and  wished  to  do  absolutely.  She  was  so 
well  used  to  this  rectitude  of  intention  that  she  could  not  understand  how 
any  gesture,  motion,  or  even  raising  of  the  eyes  of  those  souls  who  con 
secrate  themselves  to  God, was  not  exclusively  directed  towards  exalted  and 
divine  purity.  She  loved  no  creature  except  in  its  relation  to  God.  Those 
who  knew  her  and  conversed  with  her  gave  solemn  testimony  of  it;  and 
she  herself,  in  her  last  years,  whilst  familiarly  conversing  with  the  sis 
ters,  said  that,  though  she  had  borne  much  affection  to  creatures,  yet  she 
had  loved  them  only  because  of  the  precept  of  charity  given  by  Jesus 
Christ,  and  in  order  to  imitate  His  example  of  unbounded  charity;  but 
that,  with  the  exception  of  this  love,  she  never  had  the  least  attachment 
to  any  creature.  During  her  last  illness  she  also  said,  with  a  great  sense 
of  gratitude  to  God,  that  she  did  not  recollect  that  her  heart  ever  had 
taken  any  pleasure  or  delight,  even  for  the  shortest  space  of  time,  except 
in  God ;  and  she  added,  when  near  the  end  of  her  life,  that  she  found 
nothing  in  herself  that  gave  her  more  peace  and  comfort  than  this.  From 
which  we  may  not  only  conjecture,  but  argue  with  certainty,  that  this 
holy  soul  preserved  till  death  the  white  robe  of  baptismal  innocence; 
nay,  to  give  her  words  their  just  meaning,  it  seems  that  it  could  also  be 
said  that  her  purity  was  more  angelic  than  human — as  to  the  angels 
alone  is  given  by  nature  what  to  her  was  granted  by  grace,  viz. ,  never 
to  take  any  delight  but  in  God.  This,  in  a  human  creature  endowed 
with  senses,  is  so  wonderful  that  to  our  understanding,  with  some 
reason,  it  appears  incredible;  but  it  was  not  so  to  those  who  lived  with 
her  and  saw  in  fact  the  continuous  absorption  of  her  mind  in  God.  It 
was  in  consequence  of  such  great  purity  of  heart  that  she  perceived  the 
least  stain  and  spot  of  imperfection  in  her  soul,  and  kept  the  strictest 
account  of  it;  hence,  she  humbled  and  accused  herself  of  things  in 
which  the  other  sisters  could  see  no  shadow  of  imperfection;  and  they 
remained  struck  with  amazement  and  confusion  at  seeing  that,  amidst 
the  sublime  acts  of  perfection  which  she  constantly  practiced,  she  would 
find  things  of  which  to  accuse  herself,  and  to  punish  herself  for.  She 
sometimes  even  judged  her  virtuous  actions  to  be  faults — not  through 
that  sentiment  of  scrupulosity  which  proceeds  from  pride,  as  is  wont  to 
be  found  in  those  persons  who  follow  piety  more  from  ostentation  and 
self-love  than  to  please  God — but  in  consequence  of  her  great  purity  and 
humility  combined,  because  of  which  her  heart,  placed  like  a  highly 
polished  mirror  before  the  rays  of  the  Divine  Sun,  regarded  itself  as 
dimmed  by  even  the  least  earthly  breath. 

On  the  evening  of  the  6th  of  April  of  the  year  1592,  having  placed 
herself  on  her  knees  in  the  most  humble  attitude,  in  order  to  examine 
her  conscience  about  the  actions  of  that  day,  she  was  rapt  in  an 

By  licking  the  arm  of  a  nun,  she  heals  her  of  a  contagious  sore 

(page  98). 


ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  141 

ecstasy,  in  which,  having  first  recited  the  psalms,  "  Domine,  quid 
multiplicati  sunt" — "Why,  O  Lord,  are  they  multiplied,"  etc.  (Ps.  iii); 
and  "g/«  habitat,"  etc.— "  He  that  dwelleth »  (Ps.  xc),  she  thus 
spoke  to  her  Jesus:  "O  my  Jesus,  what  was  the  first  thought 
I  had  on  this  day?  I  grieve  because  it  was  not  of  Thee,  as  I 
was  afraid  lest  it  would  be  late  to  call  Thy  brides  to  praise  Thee ; 
nor  did  I  think  of  offering  myself  to  Thee  or  honoring  Thee. 
Then,  O  my  Jesus,  I  went  to  the  choir  to  offer  myself  to  Thee  ; 
but  I  did  not  wholly  and  in  everything  resign  myself  to  Thy  will.  O 
most  benign  God,  what  mercy  can  I  expect  from  Thee,  as  I  did  not 
place  myself  entirely  in  Thy  hands?  Have  mercy  on  me,  O  Lord, 
though  I  do  not  deserve  it ;  as  I  rather  deserve  a  thousand  hells.  When 
I  went  to  recite  Thy  praises,  I  took  more  pains  about  those  sisters  I  saw 
wanting  in  something  while  performing  this  duty  and  making  the 
necessary  inclinations  than  I  did  to  honor  Thee  and  offer  to  Thee  my 
praises  in  union  with  those  of  the  blessed  spirits.  Well  may  I  ask  for 
Thy  mercy,  O  great  God,  as  in  what  belongs  to  Thee,  which  is  Thy 
praise,  I  was  guilty  of  so  many  imperfections.  When  I  came  to  receive 
Thy  Body  and  Blood,  which  I  should  have  done  with  all  possible 
affection,  I  grieve  that  I  had  no  intention  of  doing  it  in  memory  of  Thy 
passion,  as  Thou  commandedst ;  and  I  did  not  think  of  uniting  my  soul 
with  Thee,  either ;  but  I  thought  of  how  I  could  give  rest  to  my  heart. 
It  is  true  that  I  first  heard  the  Divine  Word,  but  I  thought  more  of 
whether  we  acted  as  Thou  madest  Thy  Christ  tell  us,  than  about  the 
love  Thou  borest  to  me.  Hence,  O  my  Lord,  I  can  ask  nothing  but 
mercy  of  Thee.  When  I  went  to  receive  Thy  blood  in  the  sacrament 
of  penance,  I  thought  more  of  what  I  had  to  say  to  Thy  Christ  in  order 
to  quiet  my  heart,  than  of  the  benefit  Thou  wert  conferring  on  me  by 
washing  my  soul  in  Thy  blood  ;  and  I  did  not  trust  in  Thy  love  to  give 
me  grace  that  would  put  my  heart  to  rest.  O  my  Lord,  what  were  the 
words  I  uttered?  They  were  of  censure  (she  says  this,  because  being  a 
mistress  of  novices,  she  had  accused  herself  of  having  reprehended  a 
novice)  ;  "  and  my  way  of  speaking,  which  was  not  very  meek  and  gentle, 
caused  -her  who  heard  me  to  be  disturbed ;  and,  what  is  worse,  I  failed 
in  charity,  for  when  I  saw  that  her  heart  was  disturbed,  I  did  not  try  to 
quiet  it,  so  that,  but  for  this  it  would  unite  with  Thee.  Behold,  O  my 
Lord,  what  I  derive  from  so  great  a  union  and  so  much  light  which 
Thou  givest  me ;  if  Thou  wouldst  give  some  of  it  to  another  creature, 
she  would  be  much  more  grateful  to  Thee  ;  whilst  I,  miserable  and  un 
happy  one,  do  not  derive  any  fruit  therefrom,  as  I  fail  in  charity  towards 
Thy  brides.  Forgive  me  because  of  Thy  passion.  And  then,  when  I 
went  to  speak  to  that  creature  "  (she  meant  an  aunt  of  hers,  to  meet  whom 
she  went  to  the  parlor  grates,  and  there  was  rapt  in  ecstasy),  "  I  regret  that 
I  committed  an  act  of  great  hypocrisy,  by  causing  myself  to  appear  what 
I  am  not ;  and  though  I  beckoned  to  Thy  creatures,  I  did  not  merit  to 
be  understood  by  them  "  (she  alluded  to  the  instruction  she  had  given 
to  the  sisters,  viz.,  that  when  they  would  notice  that  she  was  about  to 
remain  ecstatic  at  the  grates,  they  should  remove  her,  lest  she  might  be 
seen  by  outside  persons, — and  for  this  purpose  she  had  given  a  sign) ; 
"as  I  appeared  to  keep  my  soul  united  with  Thee  ;  and  yet  Thou  knowest 


how  many  times  my  mind  wandered  away  from  Thee  ;  I  appeared  to  be  a 
true  Religious,  and  yet  Thou  knowest  what  I  am.  I  ask  mercy  of  Thee,  O 
my  God,  for  this  great  hypocrisy,  and  I  offer  to  Thee  Thy  blood  which 
Thou  hast  shed  for  me  with  so  much  love.  If  Thou,  O  my  Lord,  sendest 
my  soul  to  hell,  as  I  deserve,  Thou  wilt  justly  place  me  below  Judas, 
because  I  have  so  much  offended  Thee.  I  then  went  to  give  the  necessary 
food  to  my  body;  but  what  intention  had  I  of  honoring  Thee?  as  I  did 
not  remember  to  offer  up  to  Thee  many  and  many  poor  people,  who, 
perhaps,  had  long  been  knocking  at  doors  to  find  a  morsel  of  bread, 
which,  perhaps,  had  not  been  given  them  ;  whilst  the  monastery,  without 
any  work  on  my  part,  and,  what  is  worse,  without  any  merit,  furnishes 
me,  wretched  and  miserable,  with  what  I  need  to  sustain  my  body. 
Not  only  did  I  offer  this  offense  to  Thee,  but  also  the  other  one  when  I 
made  Thy  bride  say  so  many  words  ;  and  yet  I  knew  it  was  not  lawful  to 
speak  in  that  place.  Behold,  O  my  Lord,  that  in  all  my  doings  I  find 
I  have  offended  Thee.  How  then  shall  I  be  able  to  appear  before  Thee 
to  ask  of  Thee  gifts  and  graces,  and  recommend  Thy  creatures  to  Thee, 
since  I  have  so  greatly  offended  Thee  that  I  do  not  deserve  that  Thou 
shouldst  show  mercy  to  me  ?  But  may  the  love  which  moved  Thee  to 
come  down  to  the  earth  and  shed  Thy  blood,  move  Thee  also  to  showr 
mercy  to  my  soul.  Afterwards,  when  I  did  not  go  to  praise  Thee, 
together  with  the  rest  of  Thy  brides,  it  was  my  fault  alone ;  for,  when 
that  soul  asked  me  not  to  go,  I  consented  immediately  not  to  go.  O  my 
Jesus,  had  she  requested  me  to  stay  for  some  charitable  act,  I  would  not 
so  soon  have  answered  Yes.  O  my  Lord,  how  can  I  hope  to  get  to  that 
place  where  I  shall  have  to  praise  Thee  with  the  blessed  spirits,  having 
failed  to  praise  Thee  in  the  company  of  Thy  brides  ?  I  offer  to  Thee 
Thy  blood,  that  through  it  Thou  mayest  be  merciful  to  me.  Also  in  that 
action  which  I  performed,  what  intention  had  I  of  honoring  Thee,  O  my 
Lord,  since  I  regretted  more  the  time  taken  away  from  me  in  giving 
than  having  failed  to  offer  my  soul  to  Thee?"  (she  meant  the  time 
during  which  the  Lord  kept  her  alienated  from  her  senses).  "  It  is  true 
I  made  a  sign  to  Thy  little  virgins  to  keep  silence,  but  I  did  not  con 
sider  how  much  more  obliged  was  I  to  keep  my  soul  united  to  Thee. 
And  when  I  was  about  to  invoke  the  Holy  Ghost,  my  mind  was  so  far 
from  Thee  that  I  did  not  remember  the  manner  in  which  I  was  to  do  it ; 
so  that  those  who  had  been  less  time  in  Religion  had  more  prudence  than 
myself.  See,  O  my  Jesus,  how  in  all  my  actions  I  have  failed  ;  how  then 
can  I  appear  before  Thy  Goodness,  having  so  often  offended  Thee  ?  Again 
I  offer  to  Thee  Thy  blood,  as  through  it  only  do  I  hope  for  pardon.  Greatly 
did  I  fail,  O  God,  when  I  had  to  perform  the  other  action,  in  not  enduring 
a  little  fatigue  by  moving  faster.  I  failed,  I  say,  in  what  I  was  obliged  to 
do,  asking  others  to  do  me  the  charity ;  in  the  meantime  I  failed  to  do 
it  to  my  soul.  I  took  more  care  not  to  fatigue  myself  a  little  than  I 
did  that  Thou  shouldst  not  withdraw  from  me.  In  all  my  actions  I  find 
faults,  O  my  God.  But  Thou,  overlooking  so  many  offenses,  by  Thy 
Goodness  alone  again  didst  draw  me  to  Thyself  and  gavest  me  therein  so 
much  light,  that,  if  Thou  hadst  given  it  to  another  soul,  she  certainly 
would  have  drawn  therefrom  more  fruit  than  myself,  miserable  creature 
that  I  am.  Again  did  I  give  comfort  to  my  body  by  means  of  some  food  ; 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  143 

and  likewise  I  did  not  recollect  so  many  of  the  poor  who  have  nothing 
wherewith  to  feed  themselves,  whilst  for  me,  O  my  Lord,  Thou  hast  so 
amply  provided.  I  offer  to  Thee,  again,  Thy  blood  for  so  many  offenses 
which  I  have  offered  to  Thee.  Alas  !  my  Lord,  we  are  in  darkness,  and 
I  have  not  performed  a  single  work  without  offending  Thee.  What 
then  shall  I  do  ?  O  my  God,  I  have  offended  Thee  so  much  on  this  day ; 
I  will  hot  offer  to  Thee  the  final  offense,  which  would  be  not  to  trust  in 
Thee  and  in  Thy  mercy.  Well  do  I  know,  O  Lord,  that  I  do  not 
deserve  forgiveness  ;  but  the  blood  Thou  hast  shed  for  me  will  make  me  so 
hope  in  Thee  that  Thou  wilt  have  to  forgive  me."  At  this  point  of  her 
self-examination,  being  still  in  ecstasy,  she  withdrew  to  a  remote  cell, 
where  with  merciless  disciplining  she  tore  her  innocent  flesh,  in  punish 
ment  of  these  light  and  almost  unavoidable  faults.  Such  examination, 
besides  furnishing  an  eminent  proof  of  the  more  than  hurnan  purity  of 
her  heart,  should  cause  confusion  not  only  to  those  souls  that  swim  in 
iniquity  as  in  water  and  sleep  tranquilly  in  the  filth  of  every  intemper 
ance,  but  also  to  those  who,  whilst  professing  a  devout  and  religious  life, 
regard  venial  sins  as  nothing,  and  but  hastily  examine  their  conscience. 
Moreover,  we  have  in  her  life  another  proof  of  how  she  regarded  even 
the  slightest  fault.  This  was,  that,  living  continually  in  fear  of  offend 
ing  God,  and  fearful,  therefore,  in  all  works  of  offending  Him,  as  she 
was  one  day  absorbed  in  this  thought,  she  was  overtaken  by  such  an 
excessive  and  devout  affection  that  she  fell  to  the  ground  before  an  image 
of  the  Virgin,  and  there  remained  in  ecstasy  for  the  space  of  two  hours, 
during  which  time  our  Lord  permitted  her  to  see  all  the  sins  and  faults 
she  had  committed  during  her  lifetime.  At  such  a  sight,  though  all 
were  of  trifling  account,  she  burst  into  a  copious  shower  of  tears,  and 
with  a  tremulous  voice  uttered  these  words :  "Willingly  would  I  go  to 
hell,  could  I  but  be  sure  that  I  never  had  offended  Thee,  O  my  God." 
Having  such  a  pure  soul,  the  least  stain  appeared  horrible  to  her,  and, 
on  account  of  the  love  she  bore  to  God,  she  considered  as  deserving  of 
hell  the  least  offense  offered  to  Him. 

A  strong  proof  of  this  great  purity  of  heart  was  also  the  love  she 
always  manifested  for  it,  both  in  words  and  actions.  The  nuns  remarked 
that  when  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  had  occasion  to  go  down  to  the  parlor 
grates,  if  little  children  were  there,  she  rested  her  eyes  on  them,  and 
never  was  satiated  with  looking  at  them ;  and  she  spoke  to  them 
evidently  with  great  pleasure,  calling  them  blessed,  because  they  had 
never  offended  God,  and  wishing  them  to  maintain  themselves  always 
pure  and  innocent.  On  arriving  among  the  sisters,  if  it  should  so  hap 
pen  that  they  would  be  speaking  of  purity  of  soul,  she  would  gladly 
say :  "  In  this  place  I  shall  be  pleased  to  remain,  because  here  they 
speak  of  purity.'7  And  she  would  then  begin  to  speak  of  it  with  so 
much  fervor  that  she  greatly  inflamed  the  hearts  of  the  sisters  with  the 
desire  to  acquire  and  practice  this  virtue.  In  an  ecstasy  she  had  in  rela 
tion  to  the  mystery  of  the  Incarnation,  she  thus  expressed  herself: 
"  Purity  is  so  great  and  incomparable  a  thing  that  a  creature  is  not  capa 
ble  of  it,  nor  can  she  understand  it."  And,  exclaiming,  she  added  :  "  O 
unutterable  purity,  how  clean  and  pure  one  must  be  to  receive  Thee ! 
O  Word,  how  dost  Thou  regard  our  affections  and  purposes  before  they 


unite  with  that  spirit  of  purity  !  And  those  worldly  and  sensual  people, 
after  all,  with  their  filthy  sensuality  and  malice,  think  of  reaching  this 
divine  and  most  pure  spirit.  They  are  in  greater  error  than  the  devil 
was  when  he  wanted  to  make  himself  equal  to  God."  At  other 
times  she  would  say  :  "  O  purity,  how  many  wonders  thou  dost  reveal  to 
us  in  the  other  life,  which  are  utterly  hidden  to  creatures — not  to  those, 
though,  who  seek  for  thee  !  For  in  that  life  those  persons  who  had  seem 
ingly  been  very  exemplary  in  this  world,  shall  be  seen  to  be  inferior  to 
many  whom  to  simply  name  would  make  the  others  smile ;  but  because 
'they  were  rich  in  this  most  precious  treasure,  and  the  others  most  want 
ing  in  it,  the  I^ord  will  magnify  the  former,  and  lower  the  latter."  She 
also  frequently  said :  4 '  At  purity- weight,  O  my  sisters,  God  wants  to 
reward  us  in  the  next  life."  On  reflecting  in  how  little  esteem  this 
virtue  is  held  by  the  world,  she  was  wont  to  say,  with  deep  sorrow  :  "  O 
purity,  O  purity,  little  known  and  little  desired  !  O  my  Spouse,  O  my 
Spouse !  now  that  Thou  art  in  heaven  in  Thy  humanity,  sitting  at  the 
right  hand  of  the  Eternal  Father,  '  cor  mundum  crca  in  me,  Deus^— 
1  Create  a  clean  heart  in  me,  O  Lord'  "  (Ps.  1,  12).  Sometimes  whilst 
with  the  sisters,  she  would  say,  sighing  :  "  We  fail  to  work  with  purity." 
Being  asked  by  a  nun  how  one  could  acquire  this  virtue,  she  answered  : 
"If  in  everything  thou  wilt  seek  not  to  follow  thy  own  will,  choosing 
rather  to  suffer  than  to  enjoy  thyself,  thou  wilt  at  the  end  find  that  thou 
didst  work  with  purity,  because  in  truth  our  own  interests  have  nothing 
to  do  with  it ;  hence  the  road  of  suffering  is  safe  and  very  dear  to  His 
Divine  Majesty."  Finally  she  was  so  much  in  love  with  and  thirsty  for 
this  virtue,  that  she  asserted  that,  as  far  as  she  was  concerned,  she  would 
be  satisfied  if  she  would  remain  in  the  lowest  degree  as  to  all  other 
virtues  ;  but  as  to  purity  of  mind  and  body  she  aspired  to  the  highest, 
and  to  as  much  as  a  human  creature  may  acquire.  Hence  she  felt  a 
corresponding  hatred  and  abhorrence  for  sin ;  so  that  at  the  mere  name  of 
mortal  sin  she  shivered  from  head  to  foot,  and,  transported  by  the  most 
ardent  zeal,  at  times  she  would  loudly  utter  against  it  words  express 
ing  abomination,  sorrow,  and  horrible  amazement.  She  apprehended 
its  gravity  and  enormity  to  such  an  extent  that  she  could  not  conceive 
it  possible  that  a  Christian  could  be  found  so  wicked  as  to  offend  God 
with  deliberate  intention.  Fifteen  days  before  her  death  she  thus  mani 
fested  her  ideas  on  this  point :  "  I  leave  this  world  with  this  one  inability 
— viz.,  to  understand  how  a  human  creature  can  consent  and  determine 
to  commit  mortal  sin  against  her  Creator."  Hence,  seeing  the  useless- 
ness  of  her  wish,  viz.,  to  be  able  to  blot  out  every  sin  from  the  world, 
she  grieved  exceedingly,  and  incessantly  shed  tears  of  the  greatest 
bitterness,  both  for  the  offenses  which  were  offered  to  the  Divine  Good 
ness  and  for  the  unhappy  fate  of  those  who  committed  them  and  never 
thought  of  weeping  for  them. 






would  be  useless  to  remark  the  assiduity  of  Magdalen  in  the 
exercise  of  prayer ;  as,  besides  the  hours  allotted  to  it  by  the 
rule,  which  she  scrupulously  kept,  she  was  nearly  always,  by 
an  uninterrupted  act,  so  united  with  God  that  her  life  might 
be  styled  a  continuous  prayer,  so  strongly  and  with  so  much 
delight  did  God  occupy  her  heart  and  fill  her  with  the  desire 
for  Himself!  The  actual  delight  of  her  mind  could  be 
noticed  by  her  abstraction  from  the  senses  and  the  abandon 
ment  of  the  inferior  parts  by  the  spirit.  In  all  her  actions,  either  of 
labor  or  recreation,  she  was  with  God ;  and  not  only  was  she  rapt  in 
most  happy  ecstasies  whilst  in  prayer,  penetrating  then  deeply  into 
the  contemplation  of  the  divine  attributes,  but  also  in  every  act  and 
thought  of  hers,  and  even  in  every  action  she  saw  others  performing ;  as 
the  attraction  of  the  known  beauty  and  goodness  of  God  cannot  be 
intercepted  or  distracted  from  a  soul  that  is  taken  up  with  it.  There 
was  no  place  in  the  monastery  in  which  she  did  not  enjoy  such  a  divine 
favor;  in  the  choir,  in  her  cell,  in  the  refectory,  in  the  hall,  in  the  vege 
table-garden,  and  at  all  times,  the  Spirit  of  God  attracted  her  to  Himself 
in  sweet  union — sometimes  even  in  the  act  of  her  giving  to  her  body 
the  necessary  nourishment.  We  have  already  seen  how  several  times 
she  was  rapt  in  ecstasy  at  times  and  in  places  when  her  will  would  have 
preferred  to  have  been  otherwise ;  hence,  on  account  of  the  frequency  of 
such  ecstasies,  in  which  she  spent  the  greatest  part  of  her  life  in  Religion, 
and  on  account  of  their  evident  superiority  over  her  senses,  it  can  be 
asserted  with  strict  regard  for  truth  that  not  only  had  she  her  mind  fixed 
on  God  during  the  time  of  the  ecstasy,  but  also  outside  of  it,  and  in  a 
very  intimate  manner ;  for,  it  being  an  inflexible  rule  of  human  logic 
that  it  is  impossible  to  reach  from  one  to  another  extremity  without 
passing  through  the  intermediate  space,  likewise  one  cannot  from  the* 
distraction  and  vanity  of  certain  thoughts  suddenly  reach  an  ecstatic 
contemplation.  It  is  necessary  first  to  remove  the  distraction,  and  turn 
the  mind  to  the  good  thought,  reflect  on  the  same,  and,  by  means  of 
intellectual  reasoning,  move  the  affection  so  that  this  may  by  degrees 
come  nearer  to  God,  until  such  a  depth  of  penetration  be  reached  that 
all  the  powers  of  the  soul  are  carried  along. 

146  "THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

Now  if  St.  Mary  Magdalen  was  so  easily  rapt  in  God  in  every  place, 
at  all  times,  and  on  every  occasion  she  had  of  seeing,  hearing,  or  speak 
ing,  not  only  can  no  one  deny  that  her  mind  was  free  from  all  vain  and 
earthly  thoughts,  but  it  must  be  asserted  that  she  was  so  united  with  God 
as  to  be  in  a  continuous  and  proximate  disposition  of  ecstasy ;  as,  in 
fact,  every  slight  increase  of  spiritual  affection  used  to  carry  her  out  of 
her  senses.  Moreover,  she  herself  related  that  the  Lord  several  times 
assured  her  that  she  would  enjoy  the  same  spiritual  union  with  Him 
in  her  normal  state  as  when  in  ecstasy,  with  the  single  exception  that  in 
the  former  there  would  be  no  visible  effect.  To  this  fact  all  her  com 
panions  in  the  monastery  bore  testimony,  for,  remarking  in  amazement 
her  extraordinary  mode  of  action,  they  used  to  notice  her  at  her  exterior 
occupations  with  such  an  abstraction  of  spirit  that  she  appeared  to  act 
mechanically  and  as  if  her  mind  and  heart  never  descended  to  percepti 
ble  things  ;  though,  as  we  have  repeatedly  said,  she  was  always  ready 
and  accurate  with  her  will  to  accomplish  everything  in  the  line  of  her 
duties.  Noticing  that  the  nuns  thought  more  of  the  sentiments  she 
expressed  during  the  state  of  ecstasy  than  of  those  uttered  while  out  of 
it,  she  said  to  them  :  "  Hold  in  the  like  esteem  what  I  tell  you  out  of  the 
ecstasies;  for  God  gives  me  the  same  light  and  union. "  Thus  she  ex 
pressed  herself,  not  out  of  vainglory,  but  because  she  was  inspired  by 
the  light  of  truth  for  the  advantage  of  souls.  In  various  ways  did  the 
nuns  notice  the  absorption  of  her  mind  in  God.  Being  suddenly  asked  by 
the  mother  prioress,  and  while  she  was  a  young  novice  by  the  teachers, 
about  her  thoughts  and  interior  operations,  she,  always  most  prompt 
and  instantaneous  in  her  answer,  manifested  with  sincerity  and  ingenu 
ousness  her  interior  movements.  They  always  found  her  occupied  about 
God;  sometimes  offering  to  Him  her  actions  for  His  glory,  uniting  them 
to  those  which  the  Word  Incarnate  had  performed  on  earth ;  sometimes 
thinking  of  the  love  God  had  shown  to  man ;  sometimes  enjoying 
herself  in  the  meditation  of  the  divine  perfections  or  the  communica 
tion  which  God  makes  of  Himself  and  His  attributes  to  creatures  ;  now 
she  offered  up  the  blood  of  Jesus  for  the  salvation  of  mankind,  now  she 
busied  herself  with  the  desire  to  labor  for  souls  or  to  suffer  for  the 
glory  of  God ;  and  then,  again,  she  would  dwell  on  some  mystery  of 
Christ's  passion,  or  she  would  have  other  similar  thoughts;  but  all 
would  be  virtuous  and  supernatural. 

That  no  exterior  occupation  was  an  obstacle  to  such  heavenly  com 
munication,  she  confidentially  made  known  one  day  to  one  of  her  novices. 
"  It  is  the  same  to  me  if  I  am  told  to  go  and  pray  in  the  choir  or  to 
do  any  manual  work,  it  makes  no  difference  to  me  in  the  least ;  nay,  if 
I  told  thee  that  sometimes  I  find  God  more  in  the  latter  than  in  the 
former,  I  would  think  I  told  thee  the  truth." 

In  the  refectory,  at  the  community  meals,  she  used  to  act  as  follows: 
It  was  the  custom  of  the  monastery  to  interpose  three  short  stops  during 
the  reading  at  table.  During  these  Magdalen  performed  some  acts  which 
manifested  her  mind's  devotion.  At  the  first  stop  she  kept  her  hands 
joined  ;  at  the  second,  she  separated  them  and  rested  them  on  the  table ; 
at  the  third,  she  crossed  them.  The  nuns  being  anxious  to  receive  an 
explanation  of  these  movements,  she,  in  virtue  of  obedience,  declared 


that  at  the  first  she  adored  Jesus  to  reverence  the  honor  which  His  most 
holy  humanity  paid  to  His  Divinity  before  commencing  to  take  the  food 
of  His  labors,  viz. ,  to  work  for  the  salvation  of  souls  ;  and  to  reverence  that 
adoration  which  the  Virgin  Mary  offered  when  she  saw  Him  born  in  the 
stable  and  placed  in  the  manger  ;  hence  she  joined  her  hands  in  an  act  of 
adoration.  At  the  second  stop  she  thought  how  pleased  Jesus  was,  when 
preaching,  in  giving  to  His  own  soul  as  food  the  redemption  of  our 
souls,  as  this  was  His  food  ;  hence  she  rested  her  hands  on  the  table.  At 
the  third  stop  she  reflected  how  Jesus  on  the  wood  of  the  cross,  having 
accomplished  the  work  of  human  salvation,  was  like  one  who,  being 
satiated,  wishes  for  no  other  food  ;  He  was  satisfied  with  the  food  of  our 
souls  and  our  salvation,  and  even  if  He  had  created  new  worlds  and 
made  an  infinite  number  of  other  wonderful  works,  in  none  would  He 
have  been  so  pleased  and  delighted  as  in  the  human  redemption  accom 
plished  by  Him;  hence  at  this  stop  she  kept  her  hands  crossed.  One 
would  never  be  done  if  he  attempted  to  describe  all  the  mystic  thoughts 
that  were  gathered  from  the  works  and  words  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen, 
and  which  gave  undoubted  testimony  of  her  constant  union  of  mind 
with  God.  SufHce  it  to  say  here,  as  a  seal,  that  even  while  asleep  she 
was  often  heard  to  utter  words  of  eternal  life ;  so  much  was  she 
habituated  to  think  of  heavenly  things. 

Though  nothing  needs  be  added  now  to  judge  with  how  much  per 
fection  she  fulfilled  the  precept  of  St.  Paul :  "  Sine  intermissione  orate" — 
"Pray  without  ceasing"  (i  Thess.  v,  17).  Yet  some  very  excellent 
particulars  of  this  exercise  are  worthy  of  being  mentioned  ;  among  which 
are  the  great  esteem  in  which  prayer  was  held  by  her,  and  her  invariable 
perseverance  in  it.  Having  adopted  some  devotions,  she  would  con 
tinue  in  them,  though  her  exterior  and  vocal  prayers  were  very  few, 
as  she  was  chiefly  occupied  in  interior  and  mental  prayer;  and,  unless 
prevented  by  obedience  or  some  necessary  occupation  of  charity,  she 
never  let  the  time  appointed  by  her  for  such  exercise  pass  by  without 
it.  She  was  wont  to  spend  many  hours  of  the  day  and  night  on  her 
knees  ;  which  practice  she  always  faithfully  kept.  Neither  tediousness, 
nor  aridity,  nor  temptation  could  ever  keep  her  from  her  usual 
prayers.  Her  soul,  unless  prevented  by  the  needs  of  this  life  and 
the  obligations  of  the  community,  would  gladly  have  made  but  one 
prayer  of  the  entire  course  of  her  mortal  pilgrimage,  joining  nights  to 
days,  and  these  again  to  nights,  as  she  not  seldom  did,  especially  during 
the  years  of  her  novitiate.  These  prayers  she  engaged  in  with  so  much 
affection  and  reverence  towards  God  that,  though  not  in  ecstasy,  she 
always  appeared  immovable  and  deprived  of  bodily  sensibility.  Very 
short  was  the  rest  she  took;  ordinarily  it  was  not  over  five  hours  a  night, 
spending  the  remainder  in  prayer ;  but  often  she  did  not  even  take  these 
hours,  as  she  either  spent  them  all  in  praying  or  only  obtained  some  sleep 
on  a  chair  or  when  kneeling  with  her  head  resting  against  it.  If  in  the 
night,  by  an  occupation  of  obedience  or  charity,  some  hours  were  taken 
from  her,  rather  than  rest,  she  devoted  the  remaining  hours  to  prayer ; 
as  she  preferred  that  the  body  should  suffer  for  want  of  necessaries 
rather  than  that  her  soul  should  be  deprived  of  its  spiritual  nourish 
ment,  Oh  !  how  many  times  her  mistresses  during  the  time  of  her  novi- 

148  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

tiate,  and  her  novices  and  young  girls  when  she  was  their  mistress,  think 
ing  she  was  taking  her  rest,  heard  her,  sitting  up  and  sometimes  in 
the  chapel,  weeping,  sighing,  and  praying.  If  the  conversion  of  sin 
ners  was  recommended  to  her  ;  if  important  business  concerning  the 
honor  of  God  and  the  salvation  of  souls  or  the  welfare  of  the  Reli 
gious  was  at  stake  ;  if  any  novice  was  to  profess  or  receive  the  habit  in 
the  monastery  ;  or  if  any  other  circumstance  required  for  herself  or  her 
neighbor  more  than  the  ordinary  Divine  help,  she  deprived  herself  of  all 
rest,  and  spent  the  whole  night  in  offering  up  prayers  to  God  and 
afflicting  her  soul  in  order  to  obtain  opportune  assistance  from  the 
Divine  Mercy.  Many  a  time  in  her  life  Magdalen  made  the  spiritual 
exercises  according  to  the  golden  rule  left  in  writing  by  St.  Ignatius 
Loyola.  With  the  permission  of  the  superioress  and  her  confessor,  she 
would  during  those  days  withdraw  from  all  human  intercourse,  and 
pass  them  entirely  in  profound  contemplation.  But  what  she  always 
held  in  greater  esteem  than  every  other  devotion  was  the  recital  of  the 
divine  office,  and  especially  in  the  choir.  She  thought,  and  rightly  too, 
that  no  other  exercise  brought  us  nearer  to  the  angels  than  this.  Hence, 
no  sooner  did  she  hear  the  sign  for  it,  than  she  would  rejoice  and,  leaving 
unfinished  whatever  work  at  which  she  might  be  occupied,  she  ran  to 
the  recitation  of  it  with  happy  solicitude.  Even  while  sick,  she  used  to 
make  every  effort  to  go  to  the  choir ;  and,  as  long  as  it  was  physically 
possible  for  her,  she  never  failed  to  attend  the  diurnal  hours,  and  even 
matin  at  night.  When  she  actually  felt  herself  nailed  to  her  bed,  she 
there  recited  the  office  in  company  with  some  sister,  making  up  for 
not  being  in  the  choir  with  so  much  gravity  and  devotion  that  she 
seemed  to  be  an  angel  burning  with  divine  fire.  If  sometimes,  on 
account  of  the  various  offices  she  filled  in  Religion,  at  the  time  of  some 
canonical  hour  she  was  necessarily  detained  out  of  the  choir,  there  also 
she  wanted  a  companion  to  recite  that  part  of  the  office  omitted,  giving 
her  reason  therefor  in  these  humble  words  :  "  I  have  little  spirit,  and  in 
saying  the  office  with  a  companion  I  become  a  partaker  in  her  fervor 
and  devotion."  Those  divine  sentiments  contained  particularly  in  the 
psalms,  being  by  her  understood  and  relished  in  the  highest  degree,  often 
transported  her  into  ecstasy  both  at  the  common  and  at  private  recita 
tion  ;  and  always,  of  course,  she  was  ablaze  interiorly,  showing  it  in  the 
vivid  reddening  of  her  face,  and  very  often  her  heart  was  throbbing  so 
hard  that  it  seemed  as  if  she  could  not  keep  it  within  her  breast.  But 
at  the  moment  of  the  Gloria  Patri  even  stranger  effects  would  appear  in 
her  person ;  bowing  the  head,  she  would  turn  pale,  tremble,  and  was 
barely  able  to  utter  the  words.  One  morning,  the  companion  who  was 
reading  matins  privately  with  her  noticed  in  her  such  an  extraordinary 
change  at  the  above  action,  that  seeing  her  heaving  and  unusually  short 
breathing,  she  could  not  but  immediately  stop  and  ask  her  the  reason 
for  this  manifest  suffering,  upon  which  the  Saint  made  a  motion  sig 
nifying  to  be  patient ;  and,  the  matins  being  ended,  made  this  declara 
tion.  She  said  it  was  her  devout  custom,  on  pronouncing  the  Gloria 
Patri,  to  make  an  offering  of  herself  to  martyrdom  for  the  glory  of 
God  ;  and,  being  then  more  than  usually  recollected  in  it,  it  seemed  to 
her  as  if  she  were  in  effect  offering  her  head  to  the  executioner ;  hence 


nature,  frightened  by  the  dread  of  such,  apprehension,  had  caused  her 
suffering.  Therefore,  in  order  to  satisfy  the  obligation,  she  was  com 
pelled  to  moderate  and  slacken  the  intensity  of  her  interior  acts,  that 
they  might  not  sink  too  deeply  in  the  knowledge  of  things  divine,  caus 
ing  her  to  be  alienated  from  her  senses  and  thus  preventing  her  fulfill 
ing  her  daily  duty.  O  singular  gift!  acquired,  though,  and  possessed 
through  the  habit  formed  from  her  very  childhood  of  keeping  her  mind 
fixed  on  God  by  means  of  assiduous  and  fervent  prayer. 

One  year,  on  the  feast  of  the  Ascension  of  our  L,ord,  Magdalen, 
being  seated  at  the  common  table  of  the  refectory,  and  fixing  her 
thoughts  on  how  she  should  prepare  for  the  solemnity  of  the  Holy 
Ghost,  which  she  always  longed  for  and  celebrated  with  particular  devo 
tion,  was  drawn  in  spirit  out  of  her  senses,  and  in  that  state  manifested 
her  affections  and  deliberations  as  follows  :  u  O  holy  Apostles,  when  the 
Lord  ascended  into  heaven,  He  taught  you  what  you  were  to  do  in  order 
to  receive  the  Holy  Spirit.  Do  you  now  teach  me.  O  pure  John,  O 
loving  Philip,  do  not  refuse  me  your  assistance.  Tell  me  what  must  be 
my  Cenacle,  what  my  interior  and  exterior  operations,  and  what  the 
elevations  of  mind  during  these  few  days.  It  will  be  well  to  construct 
the  Cenacle  on  high,  that  is,  in  the  side  of  the  Word,  to  dwell  therein 
in  a  union  of  love.  Tell  me  what  my  food  and  spiritual  beverage  must 
be.  I  wish  it  extremely  pleasant  and  wholesome.  The  consideration 
of  the  great  and  of  the  most  humble  operations  performed  by  the  Incarnate 
Word  while  on  earth  will  be  my  food,  and  the  beverage  will  be  the'blood 
which  comes  out  of  those  four  sacred  fountains  of  His  adorable  hands  and 
feet ;  and  sometimes  I  may  go  to  that  fountain  which  has  so  many  rivulets — 
that  of  His  venerable  head.  O  loving  Word !  thirty-three  years  Thou 
didst  remain  with  us,  and  I  must  perform  thirty-three  acts  of  annihila 
tion  between  the  day  and  the  night,  and  this  will  be  one  of  the  interior 
operations.  Eight  days  Thou  didst  wait  to  give  us  Thy  blood  after 
Thy  birth  ;  and  I  must  examine  my  conscience  eight  times  between  the 
day  and  the  night ;  as,  unless  the  soul  be  well  searched  into  and  purified 
of  her  faults,  she  is  not  apt  to  give  her  blood  for  Thee,  viz.,  to  offer  her 
self  to  Thee  in  the  act  of  martyrdom  ;  and  whenever  I  go  through  my 
examination  of  conscience,  I  will  add  thereto  the  renewal  of  the  religious 
vows.  Forty  days  Thou  didst  remain  on  earth  after  arising  from  the 
dead  ;  and  I  must,  between  the  day  and  the  night  raise  my  mind  to  Thee 
forty  times.  Seven  years  Thou  didst  remain  in  Egypt ;  and  I  must,  be 
tween  the  day  and  the  night,  recommend  to  Thee  seven  times  those  who 
lie  in  the  darkness  of  sin.  Forty  days  Thou  didst  wait  after  Thy  birth 
before  being  offered  in  the  temple  ;  and  I  must,  between  day  and  night, 
offer  myself  to  Thee  forty  times  in  readiness  to  Thy  holy  will.  The 
spiritual  nourishment  will  be  the  daily  meditation  on  Thy  most  holy 
passion,  accompanying  it  with  the  meditation  on  that  ardent  love  with 
which  Thou  becamest  incarnate  ;  on  that  humility  with  which  Thou 
didst  converse  ;  on  that  meekness  with  which  Thou  didst  preach  ;  on  that 
cheerfulness  with  which  Thou  didst  grant  the  prayer  of  the  woman  of 
Canaan  and  the  Samaritan  ;  the  latter  did  not  ask  Thee,  but  Thou  didst 
invite  her  to  ask.  I  will  also  meditate  on  these  words  :  ' Hie  est  Filiiis 
meus  dilcctuS)  in  quo  mihi  bene  complacui '-— *  This  is  my  beloved  Son,  in 

150  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS  OF 

whom  I  am  well  pleased'  (Matt,  iii,  17).  .  .  .  ^Cibus  meus  est  ut  facia  tn 
voluntatem  Patris  mei^ — 'My  meat  is  to  do  the  will  of  Him  that  sent 
Me  (my  Father's)'  (John,  iv,  34).  .  .  .  '  Discite  a  me  quia  mitis  sum  ct 
humilis  corde" — " L,earn  of  Me,  because  I  am  meek  and  humble  of 
heart"  (Matt,  xi,  29).  Twelve  years  Thou  didst  live  on  earth  before 
giving  any  sign  of  Thy  wisdom  ;  twelve  interior  acts  of  love  for 
my  neighbor  must  I  perform,  and  ten  of  humility,  likewise  interior. 
Oh !  how  many  opportunities  for  these  interior  acts  offer  themselves  to 
us,  how  many  inducements  for  the  intellect  and  the  will !  Seven  times 
must  I  adore  the  Most  Blessed  Sacrament  for  those  who  fail  to  adore 
Him ;  seven  times  must  I  adore  my  Christ,  who  carries  the  cross  with 
His  head  bent  for  all  the  elect.  Three  times  must  I  give  particular  praise 
to  the  Blessed  Virgin,  as  Mother  and  Protectress  of  all  religious  souls,  that 
she  may  cooperate  particularly  with  her  assistance  in  the  keeping  of 
the  three  vows  of  Religion.  As  often  as  I  shall  be  able,  I  must  perform 
acts  of  charity  for  my  neighbor,  with  all  possible  love  and  cheerfulness  of 
soul.  I  will  always  remain  in  the  act  of  guarding  my  senses ;  and 
in  order  not  to  be  regarded  as  singular,  I  must  do  this  at  hours,  at  times, 
and  in  proper  ways ;  for,  if  I  should  never  take  notice,  some  nun  might 
think  that  I  am  angry  with  her ;  and  if  I  should  not  answer  questions, 
I  would  give  occasion  for  suspicion.  Thrice  a  day  I  will  remind 
the  sisters  with  whom  I  am  conversing,  of  the  dignity  of  the  vocation 
to  which  we  are  called,  saying  something  in  praise  of  it ;  and  of  this 
vocation  I  will  remind  myself  continually.  Whenever  the  opportunity 
offers  itself,  I  will  console  the  afflicted,  both  interiorly  and  exteriorly ; 
and,  in  conclusion,  I  must  remain  in  a  continuous  act  of  charity,  and 
guard  my  heart."  With  these  ideas  and  desires  of  interior  and  exterior 
operations  she  came  out  of  her  ecstasy,  and  endeavored  to  do  all  very 
punctually  in  order  to  prepare  herself  to  receive  the  Holy  Ghost.  From 
which  we  infer  that  the  interior,  positive  acts  of  devotion  and  virtue 
she  performed  during  these  ten  days  were  one  hundred  and  seventy-eight 
each  day,  not  counting  other  devout  considerations  of  the  love,  humility, 
and  meekness  of  Jesus,  the  spiritual  and  corporal  works  of  mercy,  and 
the  unceasing  watchfulness  over  her  heart  which  she  had  previously 
imposed  on  herself.  Let  the  reader  here  reflect  and  consider  what  soul 
clothed  in  mortal  flesh  could  in  a  single  day  perform  such  and  so  many 
interior  acts  of  virtue,  except  one  that  had  been  raised  to  so  divine  a 
union  as  would  befit  more  an  angelic  than  a  human  creature.  The 
soul  of  Magdalen  communed  with  God  so  closely  that  nothing  but 
God  could  she  see  in  every  object,  in  every  place,  and  at  all  times,  and 
she  was  simply  led  by  God  Himself. 

We  have  already  seen  in  Chapter  XII  the  mode  of  life  which  had 
been  celestially  prescribed  for  her.  Now  it  is  opportune  to  relate  the 
twenty  Rules  of  life  she  received  from  the  L,ord  after  that  time,  and  after 
wards,  on  account  of  her  faithful  correspondence,  the  spiritual  exercises, 
the  offerings  and  protestations  of  every  day  ;  which  again  very  strongly 
prove  how  intimately  her  soul  was  united  to  God.  One  morning  as  she 
was  absorbed  in  the  love  and  gratitude  of  her  Jesus  in  the  sacrament  just 
received,  she  heard  Him  call  her  three  times,  as  follows :  "  Come,  O  my 
spouse,  as  I  am  He  who  extracted  thee  from  My  mind  and  placed  thee 


in  the  maternal  womb,  wherein  I  have  been  pleased  in  thee."  At  such 
a  sensible  and  distinct  invitation,  she  immediately  stood  up,  and,  with  a 
countenance  very  much  inflamed,  she  moved  around  to  seek  Jesus 
through  the  monastery.  Having  gone  a  short  distance  towards  the 
lower  corridor,  she  heard  for  the  second  time :  ' '  Come,  as  I  am  He  who 
extracted  thee  from  the  maternal  womb,  and  united  Myself  to  thee, 
being  pleased  in  thee !"  And,  on  her  redoubling  her  zeal,  she  grew 
impatient  to  find  the  wished-for  Bridegroom.  She  ran  through  several 
rooms  in  a  manner  both  uncertain  and  rapid  ;  and,  when  about  entering 
the  chapter,  she  heard  for  the  third  time :  "  Come,  my  chosen  one ;  I 
wish  to  give  thee  a  Rule  and  put  an  end  to  thy  passions  for  all  thy  life 
time,  until  I  lead  thee  to  see  and  enjoy  Me  in  the  land  of  the  living." 
Here  Magdalen  remained  motionless,  and,  receiving  the  Rules,  she  thus 
expressed  them,  speaking  in  the  person  of  the  Word  :  "I,  Spouse  of  thy 
soul  and  Word  of  my  Eternal  Father,  give  thee  a  rule  in  the  same  act 
of  love  in  which  I  made  thee  partaker  of  my  purity.  Beloved  of  thy 
Beloved,  note  My  and  thy  rule ;  Mine,  because  I  give  it  to  thee ;  thine, 
because  thou  must  keep  it. 

"  i.  First,  I  require  of  thee  that  in  all  thy  interior  and  exterior  ac 
tions  thou  look  always  to  that  purity  which  I  made  thee  understand ; 
and  imagine  that  all  thy  works  and  words  are  to  be  the  last. 

"  2.  Try,  according  to  thy  ability  and  the  grace  which  I  will  give 
thee,  to  have  as  many  eyes  as  I  will  grant  thee  souls. 

"  3.  Thou  shalt  never  give  counsel,  nor  order,  though  it  be  in  your 
power,  except  after  having  submitted  it  to  Me,  hanging  on  the  cross. 

"4.  Thou  shalt  never  note  any  fault  of  mortal  creature,  nor  repri-l 
maud  it,  except  after  having  first  acknowledged  that  thou  art  inferior  to  J 
that  creature. 

"  5.  L,et  thy  words  be  sincere,  truthful,  grave,  and  far  from  anyaduj) 
lation,  and  thou  wilt  always  point  to  Me  as  the  model  of  the  works  that 
creatures  must  perform. 

"  6.  With  thy  equal  let  not  thy  amiability  surpass  thy  gravity,  nor 
thy  gravity  exceed  thy  meekness  and  humility. 

"7.  I/et  all  thy  actions  be  performed  with  so  much  meekness,  and 
in  so  humble  a  manner,  that  they  may  appear  like  a  magnet  to  draw 
creatures  to  Me ;  and  with  so  much  prudence,  that  they  may  be  a  rule 
to  my  members,  that  is,  to  the  Religious  souls,  and  to  thy  neighbors. 

"  8.  Be  thou  day  and  night  thirsty  (as  the  deer  is  after  water)  to) 
practice  always  charity  with  My  members,  holding  the  weakness  andV 
weariness  of  thy  body  in  as  much  consideration  as  the  dust  which  is/ 
trodden  upon. 

"  9.  Thou  shalt  exert  thyself,  in  proportion  to  the  ability  I  will  give 
thee,  to  be  food  to  the  hungry,  drink  to  the  thirsty,  clothing  to  the 
naked,  a  haven  to  the  imprisoned,  and  relief  to  the  afflicted. 

"  10.  With  those  whom  I  leave  in  the  ocean  of  this  world,  thou 
shalt  be  as  prudent  as  the  serpent ;  and  with  my  chosen  ones,  as  simple 
as  a  dove ;  fearing  the  former  as  the  face  of  a  dragon,  and  loving  the 
latter  as  the  temple  of  the  Holy  Ghost. 

"  ii.  Hold  sway  over  thy  passions,  asking  the  grace  therefor  of  Me, 
who  am  the  Ruler  of  all  creatures. 


"  12.  Be  condescending  with  My  creatures,  as  I,  while  on  earth,  used 
with  them  sovereign  charity,  always  mindful  of  these  words  of  My 
Apostle:  'Quis  infirmatnr,  et  ego  non  infirmorf — (  Who  is  weak,  and 
I  am- not  weak?'  (2  Cor.  xi,  29). 

"  13.  Thou  shalt  not  deprive  anybody  of  anything  that  thou  mayest 
be  permitted  to  give  away,  on  being  asked  for  it ;  and  thou  shalt  not 
deprive  any  creature  of  anything  that  may  be  granted  to  her,  unless 
thou  hast  first  borne  in  mind  that  I  am  the  scrutinize!  of  thy  heart,  and 
that  I  will  have  to  judge  thee  in  power  and  majesty. 

"  14.  Thou  shalt  esteem  thy  Rule  and  the  constitutions  of  the  same, 
together  with  thy  vows,  as  much  as  I  want  thee  to  esteem  Myself,  trying 
also  to  imprint  on  the  heart  of  every  one  of  thy  sisters  the  zeal  of  the 
vocation  to  which  I  called  them  and  of  thy  Religion. 

"  15.  Thou  shalt  have  a  great  desire  to  be  subject  to  all,  and  a 
7  horror  of  being  preferred  to  anyone,  even  the  least  one. 

"  1 6.  Thou  shalt  not  consider  thy  relief,  rest,  and  delight  to  consist 
in  anything  but  in  contempt  and  humility. 

"  17.  On  this  day  thou  shalt  cease  letting  creatures  know  thy  desires 
and  My  commands,  except  those  I  have  entrusted  thee  to  and  My  christ? 

"  1 8.  Thou  shalt  be  a  permanent  oblation  of  all  thy  desires  and 
operations,  together  with  My  elect,  in  Me. 

"  19.  From  the  hour  when  I  departed  from  My  holy  Mother,  viz., 
from  the  twenty-second  hour2  until  the  time  thou  art  to  receive  Me,  thou 
shalt  make  a  continuous  offering  of  My  passion,  of  thyself,  and  of  My 
creatures  to  My  Eternal  Father;  and  this  will  be  thy  preparation  to 
receive  Me  sacramentally ;  and  between  the  day  and  the  night  thou  shalt 
visit  My  Body  and  Blood  thirty-three  times.  U_ 

"  20.  The  last  thing  will  be,  that  in  all  the  operations  which  I  will 
permit  thee,  both  interior  and  exterior  ones,  thou  wilt  be  transformed 
in  Me." 

After  this  she  remained  for  a  while  in  silence ;  then,  still  ecstatic, 
she  continued  in  the  person  of  the  Word  : — 

"  This  is  the  Rule  which  the  Beloved  of  thy  soul  in  an  act  of  love 
has  given  thee.  Therefore,  thou  shalt  take  it,  and  thou  shalt  keep  in 
thy  heart  the  things  contained  therein,  and  shalt  put  them  all  in  prac 
tice,  except  when  charity  and  obedience  may  deprive  thee  of  visiting  My 
Body  and  Blood.'' 

Having  said  this,  she  came  to  herself  from  her  ecstasy.  How  faith 
ful  she  was  in  keeping  these  rules,  the  course  of  her  life  bears  infallible 
testimony.  Her  zeal  to  comply  with  the  greatest  exactness  with  the 
instructions  of  her  Divine  Master,  suggested  this  practice  to  her.  She 
devoted  one  entire  day  of  every  month  to  the  most  searching  examination 
of  her  conscience  to  see  how  she  had  kept  these  rules;  and,  for  the  least 
fault  of  which  she  might  deem  herself  guilty  (which  never  failed  to  be 
the  case,  on  account  of  her  most  profound  humility),  with  an  iron  disci 
pline  she  would  unmercifully  scourge  herself  for  a  whole  hour.  Besides 
the  exercises  corresponding  to  this  divine  direction,  not  a  few  were  the 

1  The  confessor.— Note  of  the  Translator. 

3  Old  Italian  method  of  computation,  again  lately  revived. — Note  of  the  Translator. 

The  time  of  her  probation  being  over,  she  is  decked  with  a  crown, 
a  necklace,  etc.  (page  102). 



acts,  the  offerings,  and  the  protests  of  piety  which  she  practiced  daily  of 
her  own  spontaneous  and  particular  inclination.  Remarkable  above  all 
was  her  exercise  every  morning,  which,  the  better  to  execute,  she  wrote 
with  her  own  hand  as  follows  : — 

* '  First,  thou  shalt  say  three  times  :  ^Benedicta  sit  Sancta  TrinitasJ 
etc. — '  Blessed  be  the  Holy  Trinity  ; '  then  thou  shalt  examine  thy  con 
science,  offering  the  Blood  of  the  Word.  After  this  thou  shalt  adore  the 
Most  Holy  Trinity,  first  adoring  the  Eternal  Father,  acknowledging 
Him  as  God,  offering  thyself  to  Him  in  this  acknowledgment  as  being 
ready  to  give  thy  life  and  thy  blood.  Likewise,  then  adoring  the  Eter 
nal  Word  and  the  Divine  Spirit,  thou  shalt  do  the  same  ;  praying  each 
of  the  three  Divine  Persons  that  They  may  be  pleased  to  accomplish  in 
thee  Their  divine  will.  Afterwards,  thou  shalt  adore  the  Beloved  Word, 
confessing  Him  true  God  and  true  man,  offering  to  give  thy  life 
and  blood  for  this  confession  and  truth.  Thou  shalt  also  adore  the 
unity  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity  with  an  act  of  reverence,  making  the 
same  offering  of  thyself.  Then  thou  shalt  renew  thy  profession  with 
the  greatest  possible  purity  and  simplicity  of  affection,  promising  to 
observe  perfectly  the  rule  and  constitution.  This  done,  thou  shalt  con 
secrate  thyself  to  the  Most  Holy  Trinity,  making  a  perfect  oblation 
and  holocaust  of  thyself,  committing  all  thy  intentions,  thoughts,  words, 
and  works,  interior  and  exterior,  to  the  purity  of  God,  praying  to  Him 
that  He  may  fulfill  in  thee  that  divine  and  loving  will  of  His  for  which 
He  created  thee  and  called  thee  to  the  perfect  state  of  Religion. 

"  Afterwards  thou  shalt  reflect  within  thyself,  knowing  that  thou 
art  nothing,  and  then,  elevating  all  thy  mind  to  God,  thou  shalt  rejoice 
in  His  infinite  perfections  and  in  the  thought  that  He  alone  is  inscrut 
able  and  cannot  be  understood  or  comprehended  by  any  creature,  taking 
delight  in  this — that  all  creatures  in  heaven  and  on  earth,  and  all  that 
exist,  give  Him  glory,  praise,  and  magnify  Him ;  thou  shalt  rejoice  at  His 
infinity,  which  is  such  that  all  creatures,  though  doing  what  they  can,  yet 
do  nothing  in  comparison  to  His  greatness  ;  thou  shalt  rejoice  as  much 
as  possible  that  He  is  God,  as  He  is,  and,  knowing  Him  to  be  the 
Sovereign  Good,  infinitely  lovable  for  His  own  sake,  thou  shalt  wish  to 
love  Him  with  the  perfection  wherewith  the  blessed  love  Him,  and  all 
creatures  and  the  blessed  together  have  loved  Him,  do  love,  and  shall 
love  Him  for  eternity  ;  and  with  all  the  divine  perfection  with  which  He 
loves  Himself,  has  loved,  and  will  love  Himself  forever.  Thou  shalt 
thank  His  Divine  Majesty,  that,  loving  Himself,  God  pays  the  debt  we 
owe  to  Him. 

"  Again,  humbly  adoring  the  Most  Holy  Trinity,  thou  shalt  offer  to 
Him,  first,  all  His  divine  perfections  ;  then  the  perfection,  fullness  of 
grace,  and  merits  of  the  Incarnate  Word,  that  of  the  Virgin  Mary  and  of 
all  the  blessed,  and  also  of  all  the  elect;  wishing  thou  wert  able  to  suffer 
and  do  all  that  has  been  suffered  and  done,  and  for  eternity  will  be 
suffered  and  done,  by  all  creatures  for  her  honor  and  glory.  Thou 
shalt  also  wish  all  thy  lifetime,  particularly  on  this  day,  to  be  able  to 
exalt,  praise,  magnify,  and  honor  her  as  the  blessed  and  all  creatures 
exalt,  praise,  magnify,  and  honor  her,  and  as  much  as  God  Himself  does, 
in  an  act  of  love. 

154  THK    UFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

"  Again  making  thy  adoration  to  the  Most  Holy  Trinity  with  the 
intensest  possible  love,  thou  shalt  thank  His  Divine  Majesty  for  the  good 
that  God  possesses,  rejoicing  and  delighting  in  it ;  and  thus  thou  shalt 
thank  Him  for  the  glory  conferred  on  the  humanity  of  the  Word,  on  the 
person  of  Mary,  and  for  that  which  the  blessed  have  received  and  all  the 
elect  shall  receive.  Thou  shalt  also  thank  Him  for  the  benefits,  graces, 
and  communications  which  He  has  granted  thee  and  will  grant  thee 
throughout  eternity.  Then  thou  shalt  thank  Him  for  having  created 
thee  to  His  image  and  likeness,  redeemed  with  the  blood  of  His  Only- 
begotten,  espoused  and  consecrated  thee  to  Himself,  and  for  giving  Him 
self  to  thee  every  day ;  and  for  all  the  graces  and  communications  He 
has  granted  thee,  always  crediting  them  to  Him ;  rejoicing  not  at  seeing 
thyself  enriched  with  such  graces  and  gifts,  but  because  by  means  of 
these  benefits  thou  shalt  have  greater  strength  to  serve  and  honor  Him  ; 
offering  the  Incarnate  Word  and  His  blood  in  thanksgiving  to  the 
Eternal  Father  for  so  many  mercies. 

"  Here  thou  shalt  enkindle  in  thyself  the  fervor  of  spirit  and  con 
ceive  the  desire  to  unite  thyself  with  thy  most  loving  God,  whom 
thou  hast  known  and  knowest  to  be  so  great  and  immense  ;  and  know 
ing  and  believing  by  living  faith  that  He  through  His  infinite  power 
and  liberality  can  and  wants  to  unite  Himself  with  the  creature,  thou 
shalt  be  humble  within  thyself,  knowing  thy  vileness  ;  then  thou  wilt 
turn  to  the  Eternal  Father,  and  pray  to  Him  that  He  may  give  thee  His 
Divine  Word ;  and  when  He  shall  have  given  Him  to  thee,  thou  wilt 
shut  thyself  in  His  heart,  and  there  thou  shalt  relax  thyself  in  Him,  in 
union  with  that  relaxation  which  the  Word  made  of  His  soul  on  the 
cross,  viz.,  when  He  expired.  Being  united  with  the  Word,  thou 
shalt  resign  thy  will  into  the  hands  of  the  Eternal  Father,  saying  :  ^  Fiat 
voluntas  tua'1 — 'Thy  will  be  done;'  in  union  with  the  resignation  of 
the  Word  in  the  garden.  After  this  thou  shalt  pray  to  Him  to  grant 
thee  and  fix  in  thee  His  eternal  will,  offering  thyself  to  Him  as  a 
daughter.  Then  thou  shalt  ask  the  Word  to  grant  thee  love,  offering 
thyself  to  Him  for  a  bride ;  and  thou  shalt  ask  humility  of  the  Divine 
Spirit,  offering  thyself  to  Him  as  a  disciple. 

uThis  done,  thou  shalt  offer  to  the  Eternal  Father  the  Word,  with 
all  His  divine  perfections,  soul  and  body,  thoughts,  words,  and  works, 
together  with  the  little  bundle  of  myrrh  of  His  passion  and  His  precious 
blood,  and  thyself  with  Him.  This  thou  must  do  as  if  thou  wert  mak 
ing  said  offering  in  the  Divine  temple  of  the  Heart  of  said  Word,  in 
union  with  the  offerings  He  made  whilst  staying  with  us  on  earth. 
Thou  shalt  make  that  offering  for  all  the  Church  triumphant,  militant, 
and  suffering,  wishing  to  do  so  with  the  greatest  feeling  of  love  with 
which  it  may  ever  have  been  or  may  ever  be  offered  by  all  creatures. 
As  the  Eternal  Father  takes  great  delight  in  this  offering,  thou  shalt  rest 
in  this  delight,  and  therein  thou  shalt  take  the  cross  together  with  the 
Word,  with  the  determination  of  following  Him  until  death.  Then 
thou  shalt  make  to  thy  God,  Spouse,  and  Teacher  the  following  promises: 

"  i.   I  promise  to  choose  the  deepest  humility.  L- 

"  2.  To  adore  and  confess  the  unity  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity  for 
those  who  refuse  to  do  so. 


"  3.  To  exalt  poverty  always  and  in  all  things. 

"4.   To  be  the  favorite  of  the  afflicted  and  troubled.  ^ — 

"  5.  To  build  all  interior  and  exterior  actions  in  the  wounds  of 

"  6.  To  be  the  atonement  for  the  imperfections  which  are  committed 
in  the  dwelling  of  Mary  (viz.,  in  her  monastery). 

u  7.  To  keep  far  from  the  things  of  the  world  and  from  thyself,  as 
the  heavens  are  far  from  the  earth. 

^  "  8.  To  enjoy  contempt  and  humiliation,  as  God  rejoices  in  Himself. 

"  9.  To  rejoice  in  being  of  God,  and  in  poverty  of  spirit,  and  to 
suffer  anything  rather  than  prevent  thy  neighbor  from  enjoying  God. 

"  10  To  condole  with  God  for  the  offenses  offered  to  His  Divine 

"  Having  terminated  this  exercise  with  thy  God,  thou  shalt  go 
to  the  Blessed  Virgin,  to  venerate  her,  in  the  manner  which  is  due  to  her. 
Then  thou  shalt  pray  to  her,  that  she  may  obtain  for  thee  that  thou  may 
be,  with  her,  Mother,  Daughter,  and  Spouse  of  the  great  God ;  mother, 
by  means  of  the  conformity  and  uniformity  of  thy  will  with  that  of 
God  ;  daughter,  by  pure  and  right  love ;  spouse,  by  fidelity  and  the 
keeping  of  the  promises  made  to  Him.  After  this,  thou  shalt  offer  to 
her  all  her  dwelling,  praying  to  her  to  keep  it  and  guard  it  with  that 
love  with  which  she  guarded  the  Incarnate  Word  and  her  own  purity 
and  virginity.  And,  finally,  thou  shalt  make  her  this  protestation, 
saying:  I  protest  to  thee,  O  most  pure  Mother,  and  my  most  amiable 
Mother,  rather  to  be  in  hell  than  not  always  to  have  zeal  for  the 
observance,  and  the  perfection  of  myself  and  all  thy  dwelling — that  is 
all  thy  daughters  who  are  now  in  it  and  will  be  in  future.  And  thou 
shalt  say  three  times  the  'Angelical  Salutation'  in  the  place  in  which  it 
shall  please  thee.  Then  thou  shalt  offer  thyself  to  thy  guardian  angel, 
praying  to  him  to  keep  thee  always,  and  thou  shalt  promise  to  him 
to  correspond  to  the  interior  inspirations  and  divine  illuminations.  To 
all  thy  patron  Saints,  and  to  all  the  celestial  Jerusalem,  thou  shalt 
promise  that  thou  wilt  honor  and  revere  their  feasts  and  relics,  and,  above 
all,  thou  wilt  imitate  them  in  their  true  and  holy  virtues." 

Analyzing  this  exercise,  we  find  contained  therein  seven  adorations, 
ten  offerings,  eleven  petitions,  six  acts  of  love  of  God,  five  acts  of 
spiritual  desire,  the  same  number  of  acts  of  thanksgiving,  thirteen 
promises ;  and  the  acts  of  humiliation,  promises,  renewal  of  profession, 
and  resignation  in  God  are  five  in  all :  which,  added  to  the  first,  make 
altogether  seventy-two  interior  acts  towards  God  which  our  Saint  practiced 
every  morning,  with  singular  attention  of  spirit,  before  the  sign  of  rising 
was  given  to  the  community. 

156  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 






JS  we  may  infer  from  the  foregoing  with  how  much  reason 
Magdalen  De-Pazzi  might  have  said,  with  the  Apostle :  "/ 
live,  yet  not  I;  but  Christ  lives  in  me;"  so  also  appears  of  what 
great  value  her  voice  might  be  before  her  Divine  Spouse. 
The  prayers  of  this  soul  were  so  efficacious  and  acceptable 
in  the  sight  of  God,  that  it  is  not  exaggeration  to  say  that  no 
grace  she  asked  was  ever  refused;  which  assertion,  besides 
numberless  other  facts,  is  also  founded  on  this  one,  that,  in 
an  ecstasy  of  many  hours'  duration,  she  said,  in  the  person  of  the  Eternal 
Father:  "  Sponsa  unigeniti  Verbi  mei,  quidquid  vis  a  me  pete" — 
"  Spouse  of  my  only-begotten  Word,  ask  of  me  what  thou  wilt."  We 
have  already  seen  that,  at  the  very  time  of  her  desolation,  God,  through 
her  intercession  wrought  various  prodigies.  Here  it  would  be  proper 
to  relate  all  the  others  that  were  wrought  through  her  agency  during 
her  lifetime ;  but  as  miracles  are  the  offspring  of  prayer  and  of  sanctity, 
we  will  now  relate  some  of  those  which  belong  to  the  first  class,  keeping 
the  second  for  a  more  advanced  stage  of  the  L,ife,  and  then  leaving  it 
chiefly  to  the  attention  of  the  reader  to  remark  the  lesser  graces  which 
are  spoken  of  in  passing,  and  leaving  also  to  his  conjecture  the 
numerous  other  graces  not  reported,  as  they  are  well-nigh  innumerable. 
For,  though  she  did  her  best  to  hide  from  the  world  and  live  entirely 
unknown  and  forgotten  by  creatures,  yet  persons  afflicted  and  troubled 
always  had  recourse  to  her,  some  by  word  of  mouth,  some  by  writing, 
some  by  means  of  a  third  party — for  instance,  the  nuns — and  all  recom 
mended  to  her  both  their  spiritual  and  temporal  needs.  Many  after 
wards  returned  to  present  to  her  their  most  lively  and  heartfelt  thanks, 
declaring  that  through  the  prayers  of  our  Saint  they  had  been  consoled 
in  their  afflictions. 

LOUS  CURE  OF  ONE  OF  HER  EYES. — In  the  year  1592,  Sister  Cherubina 
Rabatti  was  suffering  most  acute  pains  from  a  tumor  in  one  eye, 
called  lachrymose ;  and  as,  in  spite  of  all  the  remedies  used,  there  was 
no  sign  of  healing,  the  doctors  resolved  to  burn  it.  The  patient  being 
most  afflicted,  was  recommending  herself  to  the  prayers  of  Sister  Mary 
Magdalen,  who,  feeling  the  tenderest  compassion  for  the  suffering  of  her 
sister,  began  with  all  fervor  to  ask  Divine  assistance  in  her  behalf. 
Especially  on  the  evening  preceding  the  day  appointed  by  the  physicians 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  157 

for  the  operation,  between  the  fifth  and  the  sixth  hours  of  the 
night,  she  prayed  in  a  more  direct  and  animated  manner  for  the 
health  of  the  sick  sister.  In  the  meantime,  Sister  Cherubina,  overcome 
by  a  greater  intensity  of  pain,  was  supplicating  the  Blessed  Virgin 
to  grant  her  patience  ;  when,  lo  !  be  it  a  vision  or  in  sleep,  she  saw 
before  her  the  mother,  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  who  with  a  countenance 
extremely  majestic  and  beautiful,  and  her  eyes  raised  to  heaven,  was 
offering  to  God  fervent  prayers.  While  gazing  upon  this  consoling 
object,  she  felt  her  face  pressed  suddenly  and  the  eye  which  was  sore 
opened  by  force,  it  having  been  entirely  shut  for  many  days.  At  this 
action  she  felt  such  pain  that  she  fainted  ;  and  on  recovering,  a  quarter 
of  an  hour  afterwards,  she  found  her  eye  wonderfully  cured  and  free 
from  pain.  Early  on  the  morrow,  Magdalen  went  to  pay  her  a  visit, 
and  on  finding  her  cured  and  cheerful,  she  congratulated  her,  but  without 
showing  any  surprise.  The  first  thing  Sister  Cherubina  asked  her  was, 
whether  she  had  been  to  see  her  during  the  night  previous ;  and  on  the 
Saint's  answering  No,  but  that  she  had  prayed  for  her  at  a  certain  hour, 
the  cured  sister  revealed  what  had  appeared  to  her  in  a  vision,  and,  thank 
ful  to  her  mediatrix,  returned  also  due  thanks  to  God  for  the  recovery 
He  had  granted  her,  the  effect  of  which  was  so  complete  and  lasting 
that  never  more  in  her  life  had  she  to  surfer  from  sore  eyes. 


the  same  Sister  Cherubina,  being  sick,  was  complaining  to  Sister  Mary 
Magdalen  that,  having  to  keep  her  bed,  she  was  prevented  from  approach 
ing  Holy  Communion  with  the  rest,  as  she  very  ardently  desired  to  do. 
The  Saint,  being  always  efficaciously  compassionate  for  the  just  wishes 
of  her  neighbors,  withdrew  to  pray  to  Jesus  that  He  might  be  pleased 
to  console  the  sorrowing  sister ;  returning  to  her,  as  if  certain  of  the 
prodigy  which  was  to  take  place,  she  told  her  to  be  on  the  alert  for  the 
next  day  at  the  hour  when  the  nuns  were  wont  to  go  to  Communion, 
and  not  to  doubt  but  that  Jesus  would  console  her.  The  devout  sister 
bad  faith  in  the  words  of  the  Saint,  so  that  she  prepared  her  soul  as  if 
to  receive  the  Eucharistic  Bread  at  that  hour.  Now  it  happened  that 
whilst  the  priest  was  giving  Communion  to  the  nuns  in  order  of  religious 
seniority,  when  it  would  have  been  Sister  Cherubina's  turn,  the  Host 
disappeared  from  his  hand ;  and,  fearing  it  might  have  fallen,  he  looked 
and  made  others  look  diligently  for  it,  but  in  vain.  Sister  Vangelista  del 
Giocondo  went  shortly  after  to  visit  Sister  Cherubina,  and  related  to  her 
this  inexplicable  occurrence,  when  she  heard  from  her  that  Jesus  had  sent 
her  that  Host  through  the  prayers  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  to  whom 
she  had  recommended  herself;  and  how  in  that  Communion  she  had  felt 
a  joy  and  a  comfort  the  like  of  which  she  had  never  felt  in  her  life. 
Hence  both  of  them,  with  tears  of  tenderness,  gave  thanks  to  God,  who 
in  His  omnipotence  thus  manifested  the  preference  of  His  love  for  a 
human  creature.  Anyone  who  wishes  to  doubt  the  possibility  of  this 
fact  might  as  well  try  to  put  a  limit  to  the  creative  power ;  which 
would  be  impossible  to  do,  except  by  giving  up  good  sense.  It  remains, 
therefore,  that  nothing  can  contradict  the  existence  of  the  same,  as  it 
was  testified  to  in  the  process  by  several  persons. 

158  THE   UFE   AND   WORKS  OK 

CALCULUS. — Sister  Catherine  Ginori,  after    suffering    for    three   years 
from  calculus,  was  reduced  to  such  a  state  that  the  physicians  wholly 
despaired  of  her   life,  and   the  nuns   by  turn  were  watching   at   her 
bedside  every  night.     Sister  Mary  Magdalen  was  there  one  night,  and 
the  patient  was  more  than  usually  troubled  by  her  pains,  so  she  recom 
mended  herself  to  our  Saint  that  she  might  obtain  for  her  from  God 
some  relief  or  greater  patience.     Sister  Mary  Magdalen  began  to  pray 
for  the  afflicted  sister,  who  suddenly  went  to  sleep;   and,   on  waking 
up  shortly  afterwards,  found  herself  without  the  least  pain,  and  so  free 
from  the  disease  that  she  survived  many  years  in  perfect  health,  keeping 
all  the  rules  and  orders  of  Religion. 

IS  PROVIDED  WITH  DINNER.  — The  monastery  was  so  poor  that  but  for 
the  assistance  of  some  benefactors  it  could  not  have  been  kept  up.     One 
morning  in  Lent  there  was  nothing  in  the  house  for  the  sisters  but  a  few 
herrings — insufficient  for  their  actual  needs.     Sister  Mary  Magdalen  being 
in  the  kitchen,  called  the  lay-sister  under-cook  to  herself  and  thus  said 
to  her :  "  Let  us  pray  to  the  guardian  angel  of  Lapo  del  Tovaglia  (a 
noble  Florentine  and  a  benefactor  of  the  monastery)  that  he  may  inspire 
him  to  send  us  as  many  herrings  as  may  suffice  for  the  whole  com 
munity.  "     A  prayer  being  offered  up  by  both  together,  behold  !  an  hour 
later,  in  spite  of  a  very  heavy  rain,  a  messenger  of  the  said  Signer  Lapo 
appeared  at  the  monastery  gates  with  a  basket  of  herrings  sufficient  for 
the  dinner  of  that  day;  and  all  the  nuns  returned  their  heartfelt  thanks 
to  God  for  such  a  providence. 


MONASTERY,  BECOMES  GOOD  AGAIN. — In  1602,  the  wine  contained 
in  a  large  barrel  for  the  use  of  the  monastery  was  spoiled;  and,  on 
account  of  poverty,  could  not  be  replaced.  The  mother  prioress,  Sister 
Vangelista  del  Giocondo,  recollecting  how  in  1588  the  prayers  of  Sister 
Mary  Magdalen  remedied  a  similar  defect,  now  commanded  her  again  to 
pray  to  God  that  this  wine  might  become  good  once  more.  The  humble 
maid  did  not  wish  to  pray  alone,  but  begged  the  prioress  herself  to  join 
in  this  action ;  hence  both,  going  down  to  the  cellar,  prayed  for  a  while 
together,  after  which  the  prioress  ordered  Magdalen  to  make  the  sign  of 
the  cross  on  the  keg.  This  the  Saint  having  done  by  obedience,  and  a 
little  wine  having  then  been  drawn  out,  it  was  found  to  have  regained  its 
former  good  taste. 

But  the  principal  practice  of  the  union  with  God  which  gave  such 
efficacy  to  the  prayers  of  Mary  Magdalen  was  her  conformity  to  the 
divine  will.  She  never  asked  nor  wished  for  anything  except  the  will 
of  God.  She  was  wont  to  say  that  she  would  have  considered  it  a 
notable  fault  in  herself,  to  ask  the  Lord,  for  herself  or  others,  for  any  grace 
with  greater  solicitation  than  simple  prayers,  and  she  protested  with  these 
expressions :  "  I  rejoice  and  glory  in  my  doing  the  will  of  God,  not  in 
His  doing  mine  ;  hence  I  am  under  greater  obligations  to  God  when  He 
does  not  hear  me,  than  when  He  grants  me  what  I  ask  of  Him."  Even 
the  sanctity  and  perfection  of  her  soul  she  did  not  want  to  be  according 


to  her  desire,  but  wholly  in  conformity  with  the  divine  will ;  hence, 
among  several  acts  of  God's  love  which  she  had  imposed  on  herself  far 
a  daily  exercise,  this  particular  one  was  found  written:  "To  offer 'herself 
to  God  and  to  wish  for  all  that  perfection  which  He  is  pleased  we  should 
have,  and  as  He  wants  us  to  have  it."  How  perfectly  this  submission 
was  practiced  by  her  became  evident  on  the  second  of  the  eight  days  of 
that  great  ecstasy  of  hers,  in  which,  speaking  of  the  coming  of  the  Holy 
Ghost  and  the  wish  she  felt  to  receive  Him,  she  declared  herself  one 
with  the  divine  will  in  these  words,  suggested  more  by  the  logic  of  the 
heart  than  of  the  intellect :  "  I  with  a  desire  wish  Him  and  do  not  wish 
Him  ;  and  well  do  I  know  that  I  must  and  must  not  wish  Him  ;  and  with 
this  desire  I  wish  Him  for  myself  and  for  all.  How  is  this?  These  are 
contrary  things,  to  wish  and  not  to  wish.  I  say  that  I  do  not  want  to 
wish  by  myself,  as  if  by  myself;  because  I  do  not  want  to  have  any  desire 
of  my  own.  And  I  dare  say — nay,  I  will  say — that  if  He  were  granted  to 
me,  that  in  this  my  will  might  be  done,  and  not  His  as  His,  and  not  as 
mine,  though  in  this  there  would  be  His  will,  but  not  primarily ;  I  will 
say  finally  that  in  no  way  would  I  be  satisfied,  so  much  am  I  determined 
not  to  retake  possession  of  and  make  mine  that  which  I  have  already 
given  Him  and  which  I  want  to  be  wholly  His,  that  I  may  say  with  all 
truth:  ''Fiat  voluntas  tuaS  I  speak  of  my  will  and  of  my  desire,  for  the 
good  which  comes  to  me  by  this  channel  seems  not  good  to  me ;  and 
I  would  rather  choose  not  to  possess  any  other  gifts  except  (and  this 
is  also  His)  to  give  up  all  my  will  and  all  my  desire  in  them,  than  to 
have  any  other  gift  according  to  my  desire  and  my  will :  '  In  me  sint 
Deus  vota  tua,  et  non  vota  mea*1 — 'Let  every  wish  of  Thine,  O  God,  be 
fulfilled  by  me,  and  none  of  mine. ' '  Thus  did  this  holy  soul  loftily 
raise  her  will  to  conform  to  God's  will.  But  we  should  not  wonder  at 
it,  since  the -first  lesson  given  her  by  the  Holy  Ghost  in  early  life,  per 
haps  in  her  infancy,  and  the  first  grace  which  she,  divinely  inspired, 
asked  of  the  Lord,  was  to  fulfill  in  everything  until  death  His  divine 
will.  Therefore,  looking  up  to  heaven,  she  frequently  said :  UO  Lord, 
Thou  knowest  that  even  from  my  childhood  I  desired  to  please  Thee  !  " 
Which  desire  in  her  finally  reached  such  a  degree  that  many  a  time  with 
great  feeling  she  protested  thus :  "  If  I  should  here  see  hell  opened,  O  my 
Lord,  and  know  it  to  be  Thy  will  that  I  should  suffer  eternally  in  those 
flames,  I  myself  would  plunge  into  them,  to  fulfill  Thy  holy  will."  She 
also  protested  that  if  in  anything  a  doubt  should  have  arisen  before  her, 
whether  that  thing  was  conformable  to  God's  will,  though  she  might 
have  had  undertaken  it  in  good  faith,  yet  she  would  not  have  continued 
it,  even  though  it  cost  her  life ;  and  on  the  contrary,  for  the  same  reason, 
she  would  not  have  omitted  anything,  even  the  least  thing,  which  she 
thought  to  be  according  to  God's  will.  This  disposition  she  had,  not 
only  in  consequence  of  an  act  which  had  become  generic  and  habitual, 
but  because  in  the  smallest  action  she  constantly  renewed  it ;  so  that  she 
was  many  times  heard  to  say,  in  speaking  of  going  from  one  room  to 
another,  or  the  like:  "If  I  did  not  think  that  it  was  the  will  of  God,  I 
would  not  go  from  here  to  there." 

What  is  generally  found  to  be  so  hard  even  by  spiritual  persons — 
that  is,  to  actually  direct  every  action  to  God — was  to  Mary  Magdalen  so 

160  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

easy  and  familiar  as  to  make  it  seem  impossible  to  her  that  reasonable 
beings  could  act  inconsiderately  ;  and  she  wanted  by  all  means  that  the 
first  consideration  should  always  be  for  the  will  of  God.  She  would  thus 
speak  to  the  sisters:  "If  you  wish  to  reach  great  perfection  in  a  short 
time,  you  must  try  to  perform  all  your  actions  in  order  to  fulfill  the  will 
of  God,  as  this  holy  intention  is  capable  of  sanctifying  the  work."  On 
noticing  that  they  did  this  only  indirectly,  she  used  to  feel  unutterable 
pain  and  give  vent  to  these  and  the  like  words  of  complaint :  "  O  Sisters, 
how  much  we  lose,  because  we  do  not  understand  this  traffic !"  She 
was  so  enamored  of  doing  the  will  of  God,  that,  at  simply  hearing  it 
spoken  of,  she  used  to  sparkle  with  joy,  and  her  rejoicing  soul  was  some 
time  rapt  in  ecstasy.  This  took  place  particularly  one  evening,  when 
nearly  all  the  nuns  having  retired  to  their  cells  to  rest,  and  Magdalen 
having  remained  for  a  little  while  in  the  corridor,  she  heard  some  one 
say  that  a  certain  sister  felt  a  great  desire  to  do  the  will  of  God ;  at 
which,  greatly  rejoicing,  she  said  :  ' '  She  has  good  reason  to  feel  so  ;  as 
doing  the  will  of  God  is  the  most  amiable  action."  She  became  so 
glowing  with  heavenly  enthusiasm  that  she  remained  alienated  from  her 
senses  ;  and,  unable  to  keep  within  herself  the  excessive  sweetness  which 
the  object  of  her  ecstasy  caused  her  to  feel,  thus  ecstatic  she  ran  through 
the  dormitory,  exclaiming  that  the  will  of  God  was  lovable ;  and  she 
called  the  sisters  to  come  together  with  her  to  confess  that  the  will  of 
God  was  amiable.  At  this  cry  of  God's  Spirit  in  her  the  sisters  felt 
their  hearts  touched,  and,  they  also  partaking  of  Magdalen's  zeal,  came 
out  of  their  cells  and  with  her  went  to  a  small  oratory  in  the  interior  of 
the  monastery,  where,  not  without  tears  of  devotion,  in  a  loud  and 
unanimous  voice  they  confessed  the  will  of  God  to  be  amiable,  a  great 
desire  remaining  in  them  all  to  fulfill  it. 

At  other  times  also  she  used  to  say  to  the  sisters  :  u  Do  you  not  feel 
what  suavity  this  simple  expression  contains :  Will  of  God?  "  And  it  was, 
in  fact,  this  sentiment  which  sweetened  the  numerous  afflictions  of  her  life, 
they  being  considered  as  proceeding  from  God's  will ;  and  the  adversities 
and  trials  of  those  five  years  of  probation,  at  the  horrible  sight  of  which, 
foreshown  her  by  God,  she  said  nothing  but :  "  Suffi,cit  mihi gratia  tua  " — 
"  Thy  grace  is  sufficient  to  me."  In  this  correspondence  to  the  divine 
will  she  lived  as  if  dead  to  herself,  and  exactly  tallying  with  her  was  the 
likeness  of  a  soul  which  God  showed  her  on  the  sixth  of  the  eight  days 
of  the  great  ecstasy,  and  by  her  described  in  the  following  words  :  "She 
is^walking  along  behind  her  Spouse,  without  seeing,  without  hearing, 
without  understanding,  without  knowing,  without  speaking,  without 
tasting,  and,  I  was  going  to  say,  without  acting,  and  altogether  as  if 
dead;  only  intent  on  following  that  interior  attraction  of  the  Word,  in 
order  not  to  offend  Him."  Thus  exactly  did  she  live,  always  and 
altogether  surrendered  to- the  wishes  of  the  Most  High.;  and  look 
ing  upon  her  own  will  as  her  greatest  enemy;  so  that,  conversing 
one  day  with  a  sister,  she  told  her  that  she  wished  for  nothing  from 
the  L,ord  except  that  He  would  take  her  own  will  away  from  her,  for 
she  knew  that  even  by  earnest  trying  she  did  not  progress  as  much  as 
she  wished  in  those  virtues  which  make  a  soul  pleasing  to  God.  These 
words  she  uttered  with  such  a  feeling  of  humility  that  she  had  scarcely 


finished  them  when  she  was  raised  into  ecstasy,  Jesus  showing  to  her  the 
great  harm  done  to  souls  by  their  being  led  on  by  their  own  will.  This 
is  the  case  particularly  with  Religious,  on  account  of  the  vow  of  obe 
dience,  by  which  their  own  will  is  already  consecrated  to  God.  Having 
at  the  same  time  understood  that  Jesus  did  not  want  her  to  permit 
herself  to  be  led  in  anything  by  her  own  will,  being  still  ecstatic,  she 
took  the  superioress,  who  was  present  with  the  sisters,  by  the  hand  and 
conducted  her  to  the  oratory,  where  she  offered  most  fervent  prayers  to 
the  Blessed  Virgin,  ardently  supplicating  her  to  be  pleased  to  give  her 
light  and  help  to  know  and  fulfill  the  divine  will.  She  also  prayed 
with  great  fervor  and  with  tears  for  the  said  superioress,  in  order  that 
she  also  would  try  for  the  love  of  Jesus  to  divest  her  of  her  own  will ; 
and,  as  an  act  of  resignation,  she  prostrated  herself  three  times  to  the 
ground,  as  if  to  ask  forgiveness,  and  then  came  out  of  her  ecstasy,  leaving 
to  the  sisters  many  lessons  of  holy  life. 

On  the  day  following,  being  occupied  with  holy  exercises  of  the 
community,  suddenly  and  with  violence  she  was  thrown  to  the  ground, 
and  simultaneously  rapt  in  ecstasy,  when  Jesus  appeared  to  her  with  a 
troubled  countenance.  At  such  a  sight  she  became  pale  and  trembled; 
and,  looking  for  the  cause  of  the  anger  of  the  Divine  Spouse,  she  under 
stood  that  it  was  this,  viz.,  that  having  been  at  other  times  made  to 
understand  how  He  wanted  to  raise  her  to  a  higher  degree  of  religious 
perfection,  and  that  her  actions  were  also  to  be  a  little  singular,  she, 
moved  by  a  desire  to  avoid  such  peculiarity,  had  offered  some  resistance 
to  this,  His  divine  will,  and  had  given  way  to  the  thought  of  suffering 
anything  rather  than  pass  for  a  person  of  singular  life  before  her  com 
panions.  For  this,  then,  she  saw  Jesus  with  a  troubled  countenance, 
who  imposed  on  her  that  both  exteriorly  and  interiorly  she  should  have 
been  grateful  to  Him,  without  opposing  to  Him  the  least  resistance. 
Not  many  days  after,  being  in  the  choir,  she  was  again  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
and  saw  Jesus  still  with  an  angry  look,  for  which  she  fell,  dismayed,  to 
the  ground  with  her  arms  crossed;  and,  fearing  lest  this  anger  might 
have  been  caused  by  some  act  of  her  own  will  not  conformable  to  God's 
will,  she  said  with  St.  Paul :  "  O  Lord,  what  dost  Thou  will  of  me  ?  Give 
me  what  Thou  art  pleased  in,  and  I  will  do  everything,  provided  Thy 
resplendent  eyes  may  look  down  on  me  and  Thy  face  may  not  appear 
angry  with  me" — and  she  added  other  words  of  humility.  Having 
remained  thus  a  little  while,  she  arose  from  the  ground  with  a  cheerful 
and  serene  countenance ;  and,  turning  to  an  image  of  the  Blessed  Virgin, 
she  said:  "O  Mary!  I  see  after  all  the  most  pure  and  resplendent  eyes 
of  my  Spouse,  looking  down  upon  me  with  a  countenance  no  longer 
troubled  but  benign. — But,  pray !  tell  me,  O  my  Jesus,  what  did  I  do  in 
so  short  a  space  of  time  for  which  I  may  have  deserved  so  sweet  and 
smiling  a  look?"  And  she  was  answered:  "  Conformity  of  will."  This, 
then,  is  what  renders  Jesus  benign  and  propitious  to  us.  Let  us  reflect 
in  regard  to  the  above-described  facts  in  the  life  of  our  Saint,  that  no 
matter  how  much  one  may  believe  himself  resigned  to  the  divine  will, 
he  will  never  be  truly  so  until  he  has  succeeded  in  divesting  himself 
entirely  of  his  own. 





|HAT  has  thus  far  been  related  of  the  ecstasies,  the  five-years' 
trials,  the  recollection  in  God,  the  conformity  to  the  divine 
will,  and  the  rest,  is  but  the  result  of  that  sublime  and 
noble  principle  dwelling  in  the  human  heart,  which,  when 
strengthened  by  superior  virtue,  circumscribes  and  fixes  its 
affection  in  Him  who,  having  extracted  it  out  of  nothing, 
destined  it  to  eternal  happiness.  As  we  are  unable  to  judge 
of  the  hearts  of  others,  except  by  their  exterior  actions,  the 
many  wonderful  occurrences  in  the  life  of  Mary  Magdalen  furnish  us 
with  ample  proof  of  how  justly  she  is  called  the  Scrafina  del  Carmelo. 
If  what  is  written  in  the  divine  book  of  the  Canticle  is  an  excess  of 
the  love  of  the  soul  towards  the  Sovereign  Good,  I  am  at  a  loss  to  know 
in  what  Mary  Magdalen's  love  differed  from  that  of  such  a  Bride.  Cer 
tainly  there  has  never  been  a  person  so  much  in  love  with  another  who 
did  or  felt  in  the  least  what  our  Saint  did  and  felt  for  God's  love.  It 
has  already  been  said  how  her  mind  was  continually  fixed  in  God,  both 
praying  and  meditating,  teaching  and  busying  herself  about  domes 
tic  occupations ;  and  how  she  was  so  passionately  rapt  in  the  contem 
plation  and  enjoyment  of  God,  that  at  the  least  thing  she  was  taken  out 
of  herself  and  her  senses.  Moreover,  she  had  during  her  lifetime  such 
moments  of  holy  inebriety,  that  her  heart  was  unable  to  contain  the 
ardor  and  intensity  thereof,  and  compelled  her  to  act  almost  as  a  mad 
person  would,  bursting  out  into  words  and  acts  of  holy  madness.  She 
who  was  by  nature  and  the  austerity  of  life  of  a  delicate,  slim,  and  atten 
uated  appearance,  when  overtaken  by  such  excesses  of  divine  love,  used 
to  become  strong,  and  her  countenance  appeared  full  and  brilliant,  her 
eyes  reflected  celestial  splendors,  and  from  every  movement  of  her  person 
appeared  singular  energy,  strength,  and  vivacity.  Hence,  to  give  vent 
to  the  exuberant  vigor  by  which  she  then  felt  herself  permeated,  she 
was  compelled  to  move  and  stir  in  an  unusual  and  wonderful  manner. 
She  used  to  run  swiftly  from  one  place  to  another,  tear  anything  that 
came  to  her  hands,  and,  as  if  she  were  about  to  burst,  unbuckle  and 
wrest  off  her  clothing  and  run  through  the  monastery,  exclaiming  with 
a  loud  voice :  "  Love  !  love  !  love  !"  Turning  to  her  God,  she  used  to 
say  with  the  most  lively  and  heartfelt  emotion  :  "  O  my  Lord  !  no  more 
love  !  no  more  love  !  the  love  Thou  bearest  Thy  creature,  O  my  Jesus, 


i$  too  much  :  it  is  not  tco  much  for  Thy  greatness,  but  it  is  too  much 
for  Thy  creatures,  so  low  and  despicable  !"  And  she  acknowledged  her 
self  unworthy  of  this  love,  saying  :  "  Why  dost  Thou  give  me  so  much 
love,  who  am  so  unworthy  and  vile?"  At  other  times  she  used  to  say  : 
"  O  God  of  love !  O  God  of  love  !  O  God,  who  lovest  Thy  creatures 
with  a  pure  love  !"  and  the  like  burning  words.  Sometimes  in  the 
midst  of  these  excesses  of  love  she  used  to  take  the  Crucifix  in  her 
hand,  and  thus  go  shouting  through  the  monastery  :  "  O  Love !  O  Love !" 
And  at  times  she  would  stop,  gazing  with  ecstatic  sweetness  at  the  lov 
ing  countenance  of  her  beloved  Spouse ;  or  press  the  Crucifix  tenderly 
to  her  bosom  and  kiss  it,  saying :  u  O  Love !  O  Love !  I  will  never 
cease,  O  my  God,  to  call  Thee  Love  and  joy  of  my  heart,  hope  and 
comfort  of  my  soul !"  The  sisters  derived  much  pleasure  from  seeing 
her  in  these  excesses  of  love,  so  that  they  gladly  followed  her,  also  feel 
ing  a  spark  of  that  divine  flame.  Magdalen  noticing  them,  used  to  say- 
to  them  :  "  Do  you  not  know,  my  dear  sisters,  that  my  Jesus  is  nothing 
but  love?  nay,  He  is  crazy  with  love.  Crazy  with  love,  I  call  Thee,  O 
my  Jesus ;  and  will  always  call  Thee  so.  Thou  art  all  amiable  and 
jocund,  recreating  and  comforting ;  nutritive  and  unifying  ;  Thou  art 
pain  and  relief,  labor  and  rest,  death  and  life  at  the  same  time.  Finally, 
what  is  it  that  is  not  found  in  Thee?  Thou  art  wise  and  joyful ;  sub 
lime  and  immense  ;  wonderful  and  ineffable." 

At  other  times  during  the  same  ecstasy  of  love,  on  account  of  her 
ardent  wish  that  God  would  be  known  and  admired  by  all  men,  turning 
her  eyes  to  heaven,  she  pronounced  these  words:  UO  Love!  O  Love! 
give  me  so  strong  a  voice,  O  my  Lord,  that  in  calling  Thee  Love,  I  may 
be  heard  from  the  east  even  unto  the  west,  and  in  all  parts  of  the  world, 
even  in  hell,  that  Thou  mayest  be  known  and  revered  as  true  love.  O 
Love,  Thou  penetratest  and  passest  through,  breakest  and  bindest, 
rulest  and  governest  all  things.  Thou  art  heaven  and  earth,  fire  and 
air,  blood  and  water  ;  Thou  art  God  and  man.  And  who  could  ever 
think  of  and  explain  Thy  greatness,  Thou  being  infinite  and  eternal  ?  " 
Thus,  exceedingly  enthusiastic  with  divine  love,  she  passed  whole  days, 
appearing  to  be  an  angel  on  earth  feeding  on  the  delights  of  heaven. 

On  the  8th  of  January,  1584,  the  soul  of  this,  His  beloved  servant, 
being  rapt  in  God,  after  Communion,  she  felt  that  her  Spouse  was 
greatly  complaining  to  her,  because  prayers  were  not  offered  to  Him  for 
the  innumerable  and  grievous  offenses  that  were  continually  being  com 
mitted  against  Him  all  over  the  world  by  sinners,  in  order  that  He  would 
not  have  to  give  vent  to  His  resentment  and  anger  against  them  and 
all  other  creatures  on  their  account ;  and  she  was  given  to  understand 
that  in  God  this  desire  of  being  forced,  as  it  were,  by  His  elect  not  to 
chastise  sinners  is  so  great,  that  to  make  her  the  better  comprehend  it, 
He  Himself  condescended  to  inform  her  of  it  by  uttering  the  words  of 
the  forty-first  Psalm  :  ' '  Quemadmodum  desidcrat  cervus  adfontes  aquarum, 
ita  desiderat  anima  meaadte,  Deus" — uAs  the  hart  pan teth  after  the 
fountains  of  water;  so  my  soul  panteth  after  Thee,  O  God."  Not  under 
standing  how  there  could  be  any  desire  in  God,  she  was  saying  :  "  Oh ! 
how  can  God  wish?  No  desire  can  be  found  in  Him.  And  how  can 
He  say  also  '  ad  te,  Deus?  being  God  Himself?  "  While  perplexed  with 

164  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS  OF 

this  thought,  her  mind  was  enlightened  by  her  beloved  Spouse,  and  she 
understood  that  it  was  the  soul  of  the  Incarnate  Word  that  was  speaking 
to  the  Eternal  Father  in  such  a  manner,  praying  to  Him  for  the  con 
version  of  sinners;  hence  the  words  ad  te,  Dcus,  that  is:  "Eternal 
Father,  I  wish  for  Thy  honor  and  greater  glory  that  all  creatures  may 
be  converted  to  Thee,  praise  and  glorify  Thee,  and  enjoy  complete  hap 
piness;  and,  as  Thou,  O  Father,  hast  glorified  Me,  thus  do  I  glorify 
Thee  on  earth,  wishing  and  praying  that  all  creatures  may  be  saved,  and 
may  come  to  Thee,  living  fountain." 

Having  remained  in  silence  for  a  while,  she  then  added  :  "Yes,  O 
Word,  Thou  hast  already  said  it :  *  Pater,  clarifica  Filium  tuum,  ut  Filius 
tuus  darificet  te'1 — *  Father,  glorify  Thy  Son,  that  Thy  Son  may  glorify 
Thee'  (John  xvii,  i) ;  and  also:  ' Ego  clarificavi  te  super  terram*1 — 'I 
have  glorified  Thee  on  the  earth  '  "  (Ibid.  4).  And  her  Spouse,  enlight 
ening  her  still  more  for  the  full  understanding  of  His  above-mentioned 
desire,  told  her  by  a  similitude  that  He  was  like  a  father  who,  having  a 
son  guilty  of  bad  conduct,  is  bound  to  correct  and  chastise  him ;  but 
also,  like  a  father  who  loves  his  child  and  rejoices  when  a  friend  interposes 
between  him  and  his  child,  and  begs  him  to  forgive  the  delinquent  as  a 
favor  to  him,  because  in  this  way  mercy  replaces  justice;  likewise  to 
God,  Father  of  mercies,  she  might  be  sure,  it  was  infinitely  pleasing 
to  be  able  to  grant  forgiveness  to  sinners,  when  His  dear  ones  ask  Him 
for  it  with  all  the  affection  of  their  hearts. 

During  this  same  ecstasy  she  was  also  given  to  understand  how  all 
the  sins  committed  by  creatures  in  the  world  have  their  origin  in  self- 
love,  which  multiplies  in  the  soul  as  weeds  do  in  the  ground  when  not 
rooted  out  by  the  husbandman.  Hence  she  used  to  see  the  world  as  an 
immense  field  covered  and  full  of  this  self-love — the  beginning  and 
foundation,  she  used  to  say,  of  every  sin  ;  and  which,  unless  it  be 
uprooted,  ruins  the  soul,  introducing  itself  into  every  action  and  work. 
So  deeply  in  reality  is  the  secret  love  of  self  rooted  in  man,  and  so 
tenaciously  is  it  striking  root  in  most  hidden  recesses  of  his  heart,  that 
with  difficulty  it  permits  itself  to  be  known  by  man — not  to  speak  of 
uprooting  it  all  and  destroying  it  so  that  not  even  the  least  root  remains. 
A  single  root  alone  would  suffice  to  diminish  the  price  and  value  of  and 
even  corrupt  the  noblest  actions  of  the  greatest  Saint.  Mary  Magdalen 
then  continued  ;  "O  how  much  this  self-love  has  been  abhorred  by  my 
Word,  especially  at  His  Nativity,  taking  the  form  of  a  tender  child,  and 
resting  on  hay  between  two  animals  in  a  stable  !  In  all  His  other  works 
also  He  wanted  to  manifest  His  opposition  to  it,  loving  humility  and 
hating  pride  and  sensuality  ;  always  suffering  inconveniences  and  priva 
tions,  and  finally  dying  on  the  hard  wood  of  the  cross,  between  two  thieves, 
without  the  comfort  of  a  created  thing ;  and  He  taught  his  creatures 
how  to  come  to  God,  far  from  this  pestiferous  love  of  self."  She  also 
understood  that  two  classes  of  persons  possessed  by  self-love  are  found 
in  this  world.  The  first  are  those  who  are  so  full  of  it,  that,  blinded 
by  it,  they  see  nothing ;  hence  they  walk  in  the  most  dense  darkness, 
so  that  at  the  least  obstacle  they  stumble  with  serious  danger;  and 
moreover,  they,  like  those  who  are  born  blind,  do  not  see  the  misery 
^'herein  they  find  themselves  ;  and,  if  this  is  manifested  to  them,  they 

She  sees  many  claustrals  and  ecclesiastics  in  hell  (page  in). 


ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  165 

do  not  believe  it ;  so  that  their  loss  is  inevitable  and  irreparable.  The 
second  ones  are  those  who  walk  as  if  through  a  mist,  so  that,  though 
they  may  be  prevented  from  seeing  many  things,  yet  they  see  the 
greatest  dangers ;  and  being  therefore  easily  able  to  avoid  them,  they 
are  in  a  better  condition  than  the  first  ones.  The  less  self-love  a  soul  has, 
the  more  clearly  she  sees,  and  the  more  easily  can  she  reach  the  port  of 
heaven.  Having  expressed  these  revelations,  she  came  to  herself  from 
her  rapture,  strongly  and  efficaciously  wishing  to  uproot  from  her  own 
heart  every  feeling  of  self-love,  so  as  to  render  herself  more  and  more 
conformable  to  the  sublime  and  pure  affections  of  heavenly  things. 

As  the  love  of  God  is  so  operative  a  fire,  it  not  only  with  hid 
den  flames  melts  in  sweet  ardor  the  hearts  of  the  Saints,  but  also  causes 
them  sometimes  to  believe  that  when  unable  to  resist  the  divine  flames 
they  can  get  relief  from  such  great  ardor  through  natural  remedies.  It 
often  happened  to  our  Saint,  that,  having  burned  for  many  hours  in  so 
great  a  fire,  with  a  mad  restlessness  she  went  to  the  well,  and,  though  in 
the  heart  of  winter,  drawing  out  some  water,  she  used  to  plunge  her 
bare  arms  in  it,  drink  of  it  in  great  quantity,  and  pour  some  of  it  in 
her  bosom,  saying  that  she  felt  herself  burning  and  consuming.  Turning 
up  to  heaven  with  a  loving  and  radiant  look,  she  used  often  to  repeat : 
"  I  can  no  longer  endure  so  great  a  flame !"  On  account  of  the  same 
divine  fire  it  often  happened  that  even  in  winter  she  could  not  wear 
flannels,  nor  could  she  gird  her  habit  as  usual,  feeling  as  if  she 
were  bursting.  Among  such  excesses  of  love  the  nuns  remarked  the 
very  wonderful  one  which  happened  to  her  on  the  feast  of  the  Finding 
of  the  Holy  Cross  in  1592.  Having  received  Communion,  and  being 
rapt  in  an  ecstasy,  whilst  remaining  in  an  immovable  position,  she  spoke 
first  with  great  fervor  on  the  excellence  and  value  of  the  cross  of  Jesus ; 
then,  contemplating  the  Incarnate  Word  who  was  nailed  to  it,  she  began 
to  exclaim :  "  O  Love,  O  Love !  how  little  Thou  art  considered  and 
loved !  If  Thou  dost  not  find  where  to  rest  Thyself,  come,  O  Love,  all 
in  me,  and  I  will  receive  Thee  well."  And  complaining  of  those  souls 
that  do  not  love  God,  she  added  :  "  O  souls  created  by  Love,  why 
do  you  not  love  the  Love  ?  What  is  love  but  God  ?  ^Deus  charitas  est? 
O  Love,  Thou  makest  me  melt  and  waste  away  :  Thou  makest  me 
die,  and  yet  I  live  ;  I  feel  pain  when  Thou  dost  make  known  to  me  how 
little  Thou  art  loved  and  known."  Here,  on  account  of  the  pain  she 
felt,  she  made  very  piteous  and  significant  gestures  and  motions.  Now 
she  would  raise  her  hands  to  heaven,  now  she  would  open  her  arms, 
now  she  would  clasp  the  hands  in  so  touching  a  manner  as  to  excite 
devotion  even  to  tears  in  those  who  saw  her ;  and  she  never  stopped 
saying :  "  Come,  souls,  to  love  my  Love ;  come  to  love  your  God." 
And,  being  unable  longer  to  keep  still  on  account  of  this  desire,  she 
began  to  run  very  swiftly  through  the  monastery,  it  seeming  to  her  as 
if  she  were  making  a  tour  of  the  entire  world,  to  seek  and  unite  souls  to 
love  God,  calling  them  with  the  usual  phrase :  "  Come,  souls,  come  to 
love  your  God."  On  meeting  some  nun  she  would  suddenly  seize  her  by 
the  hand,  and,  strongly  pressing  her  to  herself,  she  would  say  to  her:  "O 
soul,  dost  thou  love  the  Love?"  And  thinking  that  every  nun  felt  like 
herself  the  divine  flames,  she  would  reply:  "How  canst  thou  live? 

l66  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

Dost  tliou  not  feel  thyself  consumed  and  dying  of  love?  "  Finally,  after 
having  long  run  through  the  monastery  in  this  state  of  loving  frenzy, 
and  seeing  no  other  way  of  inviting  the  souls  of  the  people  outside  to  love 
her  God,  once  she  got  hold  of  the  rope  of  the  big  bell,  and,  ringing  it 
energetically,  she  repeated  at  the  top  of  her  voice  :  "  Come,  souls,  to  Love ; 
come  to  love  the  Love  by  whom  you  have  been  so  much  loved ! ' ' 
During  this  same  excess  she  went  to  the  well  to  cool  the  ardor  that  con 
sumed  her,  and,  plunging  her  arms  into  the  cold  water,  she  also  poured 
some  of  it  in  her  bosom.  After  which,  with  wonderful  celerity  (which  the 
sisters  considered  supernatural), without  ladder,  without  any  support,  as  if 
flying,  she  ascended  to  the  entablature  of  the  choir  facing  the  church, 
many  feet  above  the  floor,  to  a  spot  not  wider  than  the  third  of  an  arm's 
length,  unprotected  on  every  side,  and,  as  if  she  were  upon  a  wide  and 
safe  pavement,  she  ran  to  embrace  a  Crucifix  in  relief,  which  was  fastened 
in  the  centre  of  the  entablature.  Having  removed  it  from  its  place,  and, 
carrying  it  in  her  arms,  she  descended  with  the  same  agility,  and,  then 
going  apart  in  the  chapter,  there,  on  her  knees,  she  spent  the  whole  of 
that  day,  and  some  hours  of  the  evening,  ecstatically  contemplating  in 
that  image  the  love  of  her  beloved  Bridegroom,  and  giving  vent  to  the 
ardent  affection  of  her  heart  towards  Him.  In  the  meantime,  she  was 
also  seen  by  the  sisters  to  press  her  lips  several  times  to  the  side  of 
the  same  Crucifix,  like  one  sucking  and  absorbing  with  great  relish 
some  sweet  liquor,  by  which,  as  she  said  after  the  ecstasy,  she  really 
felt  herself  very  much  nourished  and  strengthened. 

No  less  wonderful  did  Magdalen  appear  on  another  day,  when  over 
come  by  a  similar  excess  of  love.  Having  ascended  again  and  with  the 
same  agility  to  the  aforementioned  entablature,  and  having  again  taken 
from  it  that  same  Crucifix  and  made  to  Him  many  protestations  of  the 
tenderest  love,  she  went  to  the  choir,  took  Him  down  from  the  cross,  and 
invited  the  many  nuns  present  to  kiss  Him.  They,  being  influenced  by  the 
example  of  the  ecstatic  sister,  one  after  the  other  approached  the  devout 
image,  rendering  to  it  this  act  of  Christian  piety.  When  this  was  done, 
Magdalen  placed  the  holy  image  on  her  lap,  and  contemplating  in  it  her 
Jesus  dead  and  taken  down  from  the  cross,  and  looking  fixedly  at  His  sacred 
wounds,  it  seemed  to  her  as  if  she  saw  Him  covered  with  sweat  and 
blood.  Touched  at  such  a  sight,  she  thought  of  wiping  His  face  and 
limbs,  and,  having  no  linen  in  her  hands,  she  took  the  veils  from  her 
head,  and  with  loving  reverence  she  touched  and  wiped  the  wounds  and 
the  limbs  of  Jesus  in  the  image  with  them.  Nor  was  this  pious  action 
of  hers  left  without  a  divine  recompense;  for,  at  the  end,  the  superioress 
taking  those  veils,  she  found  them  really  damp,  as  though  some  per 
spiring  person  had  been  wiped  with  them.  Which  being  by  the  nuns 
regarded  as  miraculous,  they  gave  Magdalen  other  veils,  keeping  these 
as  precious  relics,  which  was  not  by  any  means  a  vain  thought ;  for, 
having  sent  them  after  the  death  of  the  Saint  to  several  sick  persons, 
wonderful  effects  were  wrought  and  seen. 

Another  time,  having  entered  an  excess  of  the  same  love,  she  went 
in  the  choir  to  the  chapel  of  the  Blessed  Virgin  of  the  Manger,  and 
having  opened  the  railings  of  the  altar  (which  was  not  used  for  the 
divine  celebration)  she  ascended  to  it  with  the  same  agility,  and,  having 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  167 

knelt  on  it,  she  addressed  loving  prayers  to  the  Mother  of  God,  that  she 
might  give  her  the  image  of  her  Son  Jesus,  who  was  there  represented 
with  her  in  relief.  Then  making  a  sign  of  having  obtained  this  favor- 
she  took  in  her  arms  that  holy  image,  and,  stripping  it  of  all  its 
ornaments,  she  said:  "I  want  Thee  stripped,  O  my  Jesus,  as  I  could 
not  bear  Thee  with  all  Thy  infinite  virtues  and  perfections.  I  want 
Thy  humanity  entirely  bare."  She  then  went  with  the  same  image  to 
different  places  in  the  monastery;  in  each  of  them,  imitating  the  priest 
when  he  offers  the  Host,  she  raised  the  sacred  image,  offering  it  to  the 
Eternal  Father,  and  saying  in  one  place:  "  Off  era  tibi,  sancte  Pater, 
Filium  tuum,  quern  ab  czterno  genuisti,  et  mihi  in  terram  misisti"— 
"  I  offer  to  Thee,  O  Holy  Father,  Thy  Son,  Whom  from  all  eternity  Thou 
hast  begotten  and  sent  to  me  on  earth."  In  another  place  she  added : 
"  Vivo  ego,  jam  non  ego,  vivit  vero  in  me  Christus" — "And  I  live,  now 
not  I;  but  Christ  liveth  in  me"  (Galat.  ii,  20).  " Dilectus  meus  candidu s 
et  rubicundus" — "My  beloved  is  white  and  ruddy"  (Cant.  10) ;  and 
there  she  repeated  the  act  of  offering,  with  the  following  words:  "Offero 
tibi,  csterne  Pater,  Filium  tuum,  quern  ab  ceterno  in  sinu  temiisti,  et  in 
sapientia  tua  genuisti,  et  propter  miseriam  meam  et  misericordiam  tuam 
in  terram  misisti" — "  I  offer  to  Thee,  O  Eternal  Father,  Thy  Son,  whom 
from  eternity  Thou  hadst  in  Thy  bosom  and  didst  beget  in  Thy  wisdom ; 
and  for  my  misery,  in  Thy  mercy,  Thou  hast  sent  upon  the  earth."  In  a 
third  place,  using  the  same  ceremonies,  she  thus  expressed  herself: 
"  Offero  tibi  Filium,  ceterne  Pater,  quern  post  resurrectionem  ejus  ad  te 
attraxisti  et  ad  dexter  am  tuam  collocasti" — "I  offer  up  to  Thee,  O 
Eternal  Father,  Thy  Son,  whom,  after  His  resurrection,  Thou  hast 
raised  to  Thee  and  made  to  sit  at  Thy  right  hand."  These  offerings 
over,  she  returned  to  the  choir,  and,  having  reverently  ascended  said 
altar,  she  gave  the  sacred  image  to  all  the  sisters  to  kiss,  as  they  all  had 
gathered  to  see  the  wonderful  sight ;  and  she  offered  to  some  the  head,  to 
others  the  breast,  to  one  the  hands,  and  to  another  the  feet  of  the 
Crucifix,  as  the  Spirit  of  God  directed  her  to  do. 

The  sentiments  which  Magdalen  expressed,  whether  in  ecstasy  or  not, 
were  always  of  the  highest  and  most  affectionate  esteem  towards  her  God. 
She  used  to  call  Him :  ' *  God  of  love,  of  sovereign  goodness,  of  unut 
terable  power,  of  ineffable  wisdom,  the  keeper  of  our  hearts,  the  sub 
stance  of  my  being."  Turning  to  the  Word,  now  she  would  call  Him: 
<( Eternal  Word,  Infinite  Wisdom,  Sovereign  Goodness,  L,ove  incarnate, 
Word  become  man,  Eternal  Wisdom,  Word,  Spouse,  O  my  Spouse." 
Now  she  would  invoke  Him:  UO  only-begotten  Word,  O  great  God, 
O  pure  God ! "  Speaking  of  His  humanity,  she  added :  "  O  slain  L,amb  ! 
O  profound  and  admirable  Humanity  of  my  Word  !  "  If  she  looked  at 
His  sacred  limbs,  she  called  them  "  loving  ; "  if  at  His  Sacred  Heart,  she 
exclaimed:  "O  most  sweet,  most  merciful,  and  most  loving  Heart  of  the 
Word  made  man  ;  "  if  at  His  Divine  Person :  "  O  my  Spouse,  my  beautiful 
Spouse,  O  L,ove,  O  Sweetness,  O  Comfort  of  my  soul,  O  good  Jesus,  O 
my  Jesus,  O  my  God."  If  she  named  the  Holy  Spirit,  she  gave  Him 
the  epithet  of  "  sweet,  "  loving,"  and  the  like.  Besides  those  above 
quoted,  she  was  also  wont  to  use  the  following  expressions  towards  God  : 
"  I  will  never  be  done  calling  Him  ( lyoye  ; '  Thee  alone  I  want  to  love 

l68  THE   LIFE   AND  WORKS   OF 

and  no  other  love  ;  the  more  I  find  Thee,  O  my  Jesus,  so  much  the  more  I 
thirst  to  seek  Thee,"  and  the  like.  But  the  most  powerful  testimony  of 
how  the  divine  love  was  burning  in  the  heart  of  Magdalen  is  afforded  us 
in  those  interior  acts,  the  exercise  of  which  in  great  part  she  happily  left 
written.  Among  the  many  remarkable  ones  during  the  course  of  her 
life  are  the  following,  written  by  her  own  hands,  of  which  it  is  opportune 
to  speak  here  : — 

1.  She  loved  to  enjoy  and  take  delight  in  the  divine  attributes,  viz., 
in  the  omnipotence,  wisdom,  goodness,  and    infinite  love  with  which 
God  loves  Himself  and  all  His  creatures. 

2.  She  wished  to  God  all  the  good,  glory,  and  honor  that  He  had, 
and  would  have  throughout  eternity. 

3.  She  rejoiced  at  the  mutual  communications  which  take  place 
among  the  three  Divine  Persons. 

4.  She  rejoiced  at  the  thought  that  God  is  so  great  and  infinite  that 
He  cannot  be  understood  by  creatures. 

5.  She  rejoiced  at  the  infinite  love  with  which  God  loves  Himself, 
has  loved  and  will  love  Himself  for  eternity  ;  and  she  delighted  in  this, 
that  all  creatures  and  all  the  blessed  spirits  are  not  capable  of  loving 
Him  as  He  deserves  ;  and  she  thanked  His  Divine  Majesty  because  God 
loves  Himself  infinitely. 

6.  She  rejoiced   for  all  the  treasures  and    infinite  graces  that  the 
Eternal  Father  granted  and  communicated  to  the  humanity  of  the  Word, 
as  for  the  grace  He  had  of  performing  miracles  and  of  drawing  the 
hearts  of  creatures  to  Himself. 

7.  She  rejoiced  that  the  Eternal  Father  gave  us  creatures  as  an  in 
heritance  to  the  Incarnate  Word  ;  and  she  rejoiced  at  the  delight  He  takes 
in  such  inheritance,  and  at  His  complacency  in  the  souls  of  the  just. 

8.  She  rejoiced  at  the  love  the  Incarnate  Word  bore  to  virginity. 

9.  She  offered  God  to  God  Himself  in  thanksgiving  for  all  the 
glory,  honor,  and  happiness  He  possessed,  and  in  thanksgiving  for  all 
the  gifts  and  graces  He  communicated  to  all  creatures. 

10.  She  used,  to  say  to  the  Lord  :  "  If  at  this  moment  I  could  give 
Thee  all  the  glory,  honor,  and  praise  that  are  given  thee  at  present  by 
all  the  blessed  spirits,  and  all  the  just  of  the  earth,  I  would  willingly  do 
it ;  but,  as  I  cannot,  accept  of  my  good  will  towards  Thy  divine  Majesty. ' ' 

11.  She  offered  herself  to  God,  and  wished  for  all  the  perfection 
He  was  pleased  she  should  have,  and  in  the  manner  He  wished  her  to 
have  it. 

12.  She  inclined  her  will  to  love  creatures  only  because  God  loves 
them,  and  to  rejoice  at  the  love  He  bears  them  and  the  perfection  He 
communicates  to  them  ;  and  even  granted  (which  is  impossible)  that  God 
wanted  to  permit  a  creature  to  offend  or  displease  us,  yet  she  wished  this 
creature  to  have  all  the  perfection  and  the  glory  of  the  seraphim,  even  if 
it  was   to  be  employed  in  offending  us,  thus  uniting  with  God  in  not 
wanting  anything  but  what  He  wills. 

Such  was  the  sweet  disposition  by  which  this  soul  enamored  of 
God  was  favored,  and  such  were  the  acts  of  most  intense  love  which  she 





]OVK  is  that  sweet  movement  of  the  heart  which  disposes  and 
bends  to  unite  with  the  loved  object ;  and  as  it  is  not  the 
body  but  the  soul  that  loves,  it  follows  that  the  soul  of  the 
true  lover  tends  to  unite  himself  with  the  soul  of  the 
beloved,  and  therefore  regards  the  body  as  an  impediment 
and  an  obstacle  to  this  union.  Because  of  this  impediment 
lovers  get  angry,  and  try  their  best  and  would  give  half 
their  lives  to  remove  it,  in  order  to  secure,  as  from  spirit  to 
spirit,  an  immediate  and  free  union.  "  Behold,"  says  Cesari,  "  the  ardent 
love  of  a  mother  for  her  child.  In  the  impetuosity  of  her  tenderness 
she  presses  him  very  closely  to  her  bosom,  as  if  she  wanted  him  to 
enter  her  womb  again.  She  stamps  burning  kisses  on  his  brow,  and 
appears  as  if  she  wanted  to  eat  him  up.  What  is  this  ?  The  soul  of  the 
mother,  that  tries  to  unite  with  the  soul  of  the  son,  finds  the  body  standing 
between ;  and  she,  with  such  loving  frenzy,  sucking  this  body,  appears  as 
if  she  wanted  to  destroy  it,  or  take  it  within  herself,  and  almost  to  absorb 
it,  and  thus  become  one  with  him,  soul  and  body ;  or  rather,  she  seems 
from  the  mouth  of  the  infant  to  draw  within  herself  through  her  mouth 
the  soul  of  her  beloved,  that  it  may  become  one  with  her  own.  See 
how  the  nature  of  love  manifests  itself!  But  you  can  also  see  how, 
just  on  account  of  the  body,  this  perfect  union  is  not  possible  among 
men.  Christ  alone  could  accomplish  it :  He  hid  in  the  body  His  Divinity, 
personally  united  to  His  soul.  And  moreover,  hiding  Himself  more 
completely  and  making  Himself  smaller  under  the  appearance  of  bread, 
He  found  the  way  thus  to  enter — God,  soul  and  body — into  our  heart, 
and  as  true  food  to  penetrate  our  interior.  There  He  goes  to  find  the 
beloved  soul,  and  face  to  face,  spirit  to  spirit,  the  Divine  Word  and  our 
soul  (which  is  but  a  breeze  and  a  breath  of  the  divine  substance)  drawn 
by  mutual  affinity,  kiss  one  another,  become  as  one  and  the  same  thing, 
embodying  one  another ;  nay,  as  the  power  of  the  Divinity  infinitely 
surpasses  that  of  the  human  spirit,  the  latter  is  so  much  more  efficaciously 

176  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS  OK 

absorbed  by  the  former  and  in  a  manner  which  God  alone  knows  and 
can  make  known,  that  loving  transformation  follows  whereby  man, 
coming  out  of  his  natural  mode  of  living,  acquires  a  life,  a  way  of  work 
ing,  and  a  will  wholly  divine.  Hence  all  the  Saints  always  had  for  this 
Heavenly  Banquet  the  most  longing  desire,  both  because  of  the  union 
with  the  beloved  Jesus  and  the  recollection  of  that  night  set  apart  by 
the  same  Divine  Redeemer  in  order  that  He  might  oppose  the  most 
tender  demonstration  of  His  love  to  human  perfidy  and  ingratitude, 
excessive  beyond  conception.  This  testament  of  living  and  perpetual 
love  forms  the  primary  object  of  every  soul  who,  turning  her  face  to  her 
Divine  Maker,  opposes  no  obstacle  to  His  divine  charms." 

What  was  to  become,  therefore,  of  our  Magdalen  so  enamored  of 
her  God?  By  what  ardent  wishes  must  she  have  felt  her  heart  borne 
away  towards  the  Eucharistic  Food?  We  have  already  seen  how  from  her 
tender  years  she  was  equally  reverent  towards  It  and  hungry  for  It;  and 
that,  just  on  account  of  the  daily  reception  of  the  Most  Holy  Communion 
therein,  she  chose  the  monastery  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli.  As  the 
divine  love  grew  in  her  with  age,  so,  in  equal  measure,  this  celestial 
hunger  grew ;  so  that  she  came  to  think  it  was  impossible  for  her  to 
live,  unless  she  could  feed  daily  on  this  Angelic  Bread  ;  in  fact,  she 
never  voluntarily  omitted  to  receive  it ;  and,  even  during  her  infirmities, 
she  tried,  as  far  as  lay  in  her  power,  not  to  be  left  without  it.  One 
day  during  the  time  of  her  novitiate,  it  happened  that  the  father  con 
fessor  delayed  the  hour  of  Communion  unusually,  so  that  the  mistress  of 
novices,  thinking  he  was  no  longer  coming,  obliged  Magdalen  to  breakfast. 
No  sooner  did  she,  against  her  will  and  by  mere  obedience,  swallow  a 
mouthful  than  the  father  arrived  and  had  the  bell  rung  for  Communion. 
The  holy  novice  felt  such  regret  and  grief  at  this,  and  broke  into  such 
bitter  weeping,  as  to  make  the  mistress,  who  had  been  the  cause  of  her 
disciple's  being  deprived  of  so  much  good  that  morning,  weep  also. 
The  Saint  was  so  transported  by  the  wish  of  uniting  herself  with  Jesus  by 
means  of  this  Divine  Sacrament,  that  even  the  interval  between  one  day 
and  the  other  was  very  painful  to  her;  and  at  the  time  of  Communion  it 
often  happened  that,  being  impatiently  waiting  for  her  turn  in  the  order 
of  seniority,  without  thinking,  she  would  go  ahead  of  others,  sometimes 
even  the  very  superioress.  The  fervor  and  reverence  with  which  she 
approached  the  Sacred  Banquet  a  man  could  scarcely  imagine.  It  can 
well  be  said,  that  strengthened  and  kindled  in  the  love  of  God  by  thus 
nourishing  herself  with  the  body  of  Christ,  and  becoming  every  day 
more  inflamed  with  it,  she  was  continually  in  her  thoughts,  discourses, 
and  most  ardent  desires  sitting  at  the  Celestial  Banquet,  so  that,  as  a  rule, 
before  or  after  Communion,  she  was  alienated  from  her  senses.  Reflecting 
either  on  the  love  shown  us  by  Jesus  in  the  Eucharist,  or  on  His  Passion, 
in  memory  of  which  this  was  instituted,  she  would  first  become 
inflamed  with  the  most  loving  gratitude,  and  then,  beginning  to 
consider  her  nothingness  in  comparison  to  the  infinite  divine  greatness, 
she  would  approach  to  receive  this  Sacrament  with  so  profound  a 
reverence  and  fear  that  she  used  to  say  she  was  expecting,  some  time,  on 
account  of  her  un worthiness,  that  the  earth  would  open  under  her  feet, 
in  the  performance  of  this  action.  She  was  so  immersed  in  the  con- 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DK-PAZZI.  17 1 

sideration  of  receiving  her  Jesus  in  the  Sacrament,  that  every  exercise, 
though  laborious  and  distracting,  far  from  making  her  mind  wander, 
would  rather  become  for  her  a  proximate  preparation  for  Holy  Commu 
nion.  It  happened  sometimes  that  during  these  very  exercises  she  was 
rapt  in  ecstasy,  and  thus  ecstatic  went  to  Communion.  Wonderful  in  a 
special  manner  it  was  the  morning  the  bell  for  Communion  rang  while 
she  was  making  bread,  when,  carried  out  of  her  senses  by  an  excess  of 
joy,  she  went  to  Holy  Communion  forgetting  her  arms  wrere  bare 
and  that  there  was  flour  on  both  her  hands.  Though  in  far-away  cells, 
wherein  it  was  naturally  impossible  to  hear  such  a  sound,  yet  there  was 
no  instance  in  which  it  did  not  penetrate  to  her  ears  ;  and  it  was  enough 
for  her  to  speak  of  it,  in  order  that  the  sisters  would  consent  to  follow  her 
with  firm  faith,  though  they  themselves  might  not  have  heard  the 
common  call.  It  also  happened  that,  Magdalen  .being  in  ecstasy  at 
the  moment  the  bell  invited  the  sisters  to  the  Eucharistic  Banquet,  she, 
as  if  at  the  voice  of  obedience,  returned  to  herself  and  proceeded 
with  the  rest  to  the  Divine  Repast.  On  account  of  her  thinking  so  little 
of  herself,  she  was  sometimes  seized  by  so  profound  a  respect  that  she 
felt  a  reluctance  to  approach  Holy  Communion,  saying  emphatically: 
"  Oh!  how  great  a  thing  it  is  to  receive  a  God!" 

Before  the  Blessed  Sacrament  she  seemed  an  angel  assisting  before 
the  Majesty  of  the  Most  High ;  and  when  the  confessor  exposed  It  for 
adoration,  her  eyes  sparkled  with  joy,  and  in  her  voice  and  the  move 
ments  of  her  body  she  manifested  the  excess  of  her  contentment.  When 
ever  she  knew  this  before  the  other  sisters,  she  would  run  to  them,  and 
break  the  happy  news,  saying  :  "Don't  you  know?  The  father  wants 
to  expose  the  Most  Holy  Sacrament  for  us."  Thus  when  the  confessor 
entered  the  monastery  to  give  Communion  to  the  sick,  she,  as  if  attracted 
by  a  strong  magnet,  could  not  help  drawing  as  near  as  possible  to  him, 
to  adore,  close  by,  her  Jesus  in  the  Sacrament.  Her  devotion  to  Him 
was  so  great  that  every  day  (between  day  and  night)  she  would  ordinarily 
visit  Him  thirty  times,  according  to  the  order  she  had  received  from 
Jesus  Himself  in  the  twenty  rules  above  mentioned.  She  used  to  call 
Thursday  "  the  day  of  love,"  on  account  of  the  institution  of  the  Eucha 
rist,  which  took  place  on  that  day  ;  and  she  felt  a  special  desire  that  the 
sisters  would  receive  Communion  on  that  day. 

During  her  ecstasies  she  had  most  sublime  revelations  concerning 
this  great  gift  of  God ;  and  especially  in  one  of  them  the  Eternal 
Father  taught  her  the  manner  of  preparing  for  Holy  Communion. 
She  expressed  other  devout  thoughts  in  another  ecstasy,  in  which  she 
spoke  wonderfully  of  how  the  Incarnate  Word  rests  Himself  in  the  soul 
and  in  the  Church.  In  another  ecstasy  she  spoke  with  celestial  knowl 
edge  of  the  complaisance  of  God  in  being  united  to  the  just  soul,  by  the 
likeness  the  soul  has  to  God,  and  of  the  delight  the  soul  feels  in  remain 
ing  united  with  God.  On  account  of  the  ardent  wish  she  felt  in  her 
soul,  she  often  manifested  in  her  ecstasies  that  Jesus,  in  order  to  satisfy 
her,  gave  her  Holy  Communion  with  His  own  hands.  This  happened 
especially  during  the  two  ecstasies  above  referred  to,  during  which  she 
had  a  taste  of  the  Passion  of  Jesus  ;  and  contemplating  the  institution  of 
this  great  Sacrament,  and  representing  vividly  the  Divine  Saviour  in  that 

172  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

action,  she  acted  as  though  she  actually  received  Communion  from  Jesus, 
in  company  with  the  Apostles.  So  it  appeared  to  the  eyes  of  the  sisters 
present,  and  was  so  understood  from  the  words  she  uttered  in  her  ecstasy, 
among  which  were  the  following :  "Dtiectus  meus  Candidas  et  rubicundus 
collocavit  se  in  anima  mea" — "My  Beloved,  white  and  ruddy,  placed 
Himself  in  my  soul."  Another  time — it  was  the  feast  of  St.  Albert  the 
Carmelite, — when  she  was  clothed  with  the  habit  that  came  out  of  the 
wounds  of  Jesus,  as  has  been  related  in  Chapter  XIV,  in  which  ecstasy 
she  said  the  Confiteor  and  "  Domine,  non  sum  digna"  three  times,  she 
opened  her  mouth  as  if  she  were  receiving  Holy  Communion,  and  she 
continued  recollected,  as  usual,  for  the  thanksgiving.  By  the  like  super 
natural  power,  one  morning  (the  confessor  having  been  prevented  from 
coming  to  give  Communion  to  the  nuns,  and  these  being  gathered 
according  to  the  custom  in  such  case  in  the  Communion-room, 
to  supply  the  deficiency  with  their  desire),  Magdalen,  rapt  in  ecstasy, 
repeated  the  acts  and  the  words  above  said,  and  then,  returning  to  her 
self,  related  that  she  saw  St.  Albert  the  Carmelite  carrying  the  Most  Holy 
Sacrament  and  giving  Communion  not  only  to  herself,  but  also  to  all 
the  nuns  who  had  come  there,  in  token  of  the  delight  God  took  in  the 
practice  of  spiritual  communion.  God  also  granted  her  to  see  Jesus  in 
the  heart  of  the  sisters  after  they  had  received  Holy  Communion  ;  and 
sometimes  she  manifested  in  what  form  she  saw  Him  in  each  of  them — 
He  showing  Himself  to  her  in  some  as  a  child,  in  others  at  the  age  of 
twelve,  and  in  others  still  at  the  age  of  thirty-three  years,  in  others  as 
suffering  and  crucified,  and  in  others  as  risen  and  glorious  ;  and  this 
diversity  occurred  according  to  the  various  meditations  the  sisters  were 
engaged  in,  or  according  to  the  capacity  and  the  merits  of  each  of  them. 

One  morning,  it  being  Easter  Sunday,  whilst  she  was  mistress  of 
novices,  and  sitting  at  the  table  with  unwonted  joy  and  gladness, 
a  novice  waitress  could  not  keep  herself  from  asking  her  the  cause  of  so 
great  a  joy.  To  whom  Magdalen  made  answer :  "Because  I  see  Jesus 
resting  in  the  breast  of  all  the  sisters,  glorious  and  risen,  as  Holy  Church 
to-day  represents  Him  to  us ;  and  His  presence  is  the  cause  of  my  being 
so  joyful."  Having  uttered  these  words,  she  remained  alienated  from 
her  senses,  and  began  a  tender  colloquy  with  her  Divine  Spouse.  Thus 
the  company  of  the  sisters  promoted  in  her  the  presence  of  God  and  the 
love  of  her  neighbors  ;  and  one  day,  she  being  in  the  midst  of  her  sisters, 
looking  at  all  of  them,  and  particularly  resting  her  eye  on  one,  she  thus 
spoke  to  her:  "  Oh !  what  love  do  I  feel  for  all  these  sisters,  seeing  them 
all  like  so  many  tabernacles  and  ciboriums  of  the  Most  Holy  Sacrament 
they  so  often  receive  !" 

And  the  more  good  she  understood  to  be  contained  in  this  celestial 
gift,  the  more  did  she  wish  the  sisters  to  partake  of  it ;  so  that,  in 
order  that  they  would  approach  it  often,  she  was  wont  to  speak  of  it  to 
them  with  so  much  love  and  esteem  that  sometimes  on  such  occasions 
she  was  by  her  enthusiasm  carried  out  of  her  senses.  This  happened  to  her 
one  day  in  a  special  manner,  when  discoursing  on  the  "  Consummatum 
est" — "It  is  consummated"  (John  xix,  30),  uttered  by  Jesus  on  the 
cross ;  applying  which  to  the  soul  who  has  fed  on  the  Angelic  Bread, 
she  said:  "As  soon  as  the  soul  has  received  the  Bread  of  L,ife  in 


the  Most  Holy  Sacrament  of  the  altar,  by  the  close  union  contracted 
with  God,  she  can  say  also  :  ^Consummatum  est?  In  that  celestial  food 
all  good  is  found,  all  wishes  are  fulfilled  in  God;  and  what  else  can 
the  soul  want,  when  possessing  Him  Who  contains  everything?  If 
the  soul  wishes  for  charity,  possessing  Him  Who  is  perfect  charity,  she 
has  also  the  perfection  of  charity  ;  the  same  is  to  be  said  of  the 
true  faith,  of  hope,  purity,  wisdom,  humility,  and  meekness ;  as 
Christ  in  the  soul,  by  means  of  this  food,  begets  all  the  virtues.  What 
can  the  soul  want  or  wish,  if  all  the  virtues,  gifts,  and,  graces  she 
might  wish  are  gathered  in  that  wonderful  God,  who  is  truly  under 
those  sacramental  species,  as  in  truth  He  is  sitting  at  the  right 
hand  of  His  Father  in  heaven  ?  Ah  !  Oh  !  how  well  then  the  soul, 
having  and  professing  this  God,  can  say  with  truth  :  *  Consummatum  estP 
She  wants  nothing,  she  wishes  for  nothing,  she  longs  for  nothing  else 
but  Him  who  then  has  given  Himself  wholly  to  her,  communicating 
to  her,  together  with  Himself,  all  his  goods." 

At  another  time,  as  she  was  giving  the  spiritual  exercises  (availing 
herself  of  those  of  St.  Ignatius)  to  one  of  her  novices,  the  latter  relat 
ing  to  the  saintly  mother  how  in  her  meditation  on  the  Divine  Eucharist 
she  had  centred  her  thoughts  so  much  on  the  love  with  which  Jesus 
had  instituted  it,  that  she  could  not  pass  to  any  other  idea,  Magdalen, 
feeling  her  heart  touched  by  such  expressions,  replied  several  times: 
"  When  one  stops  to  think  on  love,  she  cannot  proceed  further,  but  must 
stop  at  love  ;n  and  here  she  went  into  ecstasy.  At  another  time,  being 
still  mistress  of  novices,  she  knelt  in  their  midst,  and,  crossing  her  arms 
on  her  breast,  said  these  words :  u  O  sisters,  were  we  to  penetrate 
deeply  into  the  fact  that  whilst  the  sacred  species  last  within  us,  the 
Divine  Word  performs  in  us  those  operations  which  He  performs  in  the 
bosom  of  His  Eternal  Father,  and  the  Word  being  in  the  bosom  of  the 
Father,  and  the  Father  in  the  Word,  and  the  Holy  Ghost  in  both  insep 
arably,  we,  in  receiving  the  Word,  receive  all  the  Most  Holy  Trinity: 
Oh!  if  we  would  penetrate  it!  Oh!  if  we  would  know  it!  we  would  not 
approach  Holy  Communion  so  much  at  random,  nor  would  we  for  such 
trifling  causes  neglect  to  receive  it,  but  we  would  think  well  on  it 
before  omitting  it."  Such  words,  uttered  with  the  greatest  fervor,  caused 
in  the  soul  of  the  novices  great  desire  to  frequent  the  Eucharistic  table. 
Knowing  that  any  one  had  omitted  by  her  own  will  Holy  Communion, 
she  felt  such  grief  in  consequence  of  it,  that  it  made  her  weep ;  and  she 
used  to  address  such  a  one  in  words  like  these :  "  Thou  dost  not  know, 
O  sister,  of  how  much  good  thou  hast  deprived  thyself;  ah  !  how  much 
good  thou  hast  lost  this  morning  !"  And  she  added  the  most  pressing 
exhortations  to  persuade  the  frequenting  of  the  Eucharistic  Sacrament, 
demonstrating  the  advantages  it  brings  to  the  soul,  and  the  offense 
offered  to  the  love  of  Jesus  by  omitting  Holy  Communion  when  one 
can  receive  it. 

One  morning,  two  nuns  having  been  casually  left  without  Holy 
Communion,  and  Magdalen  being  in  ecstasy,  as  soon  as  she  heard  some 
one  speaking  of  that,  she  came  to  herself,  and,  all  inflamed  with  charity, 
went  to  call  back  the  confessor,  who  was  about  leaving  the  church,  and 
begged  of  him  that  for  the  love  of  God  he  would  give  Communion  to 

174  THE    LIKK   AND   WORKS   OF 

those  two  sisters  ;  which  being  done  by  him,  her  spirit  abandoned  itself 
again  to  the  ecstatic  contemplation.  She  would  pray  the  Divine  Good 
ness,  fervently  and  incessantly,  to  be  pleased  to  preserve  in  her 
monastery,  till  the  end  of  the  world,  the  practice  of  frequenting  the 
Most  Holy  Sacrament ;  and  therefore  to  grant  them  spiritual  fathers 
who  would  feel  this  desire  also,  and  who  would  have  such  light  as 
to  worthily  admit  the  sisters  to  this  Banquet.  On  noticing  in  any 
one  little  fervor  and  diligence,  she  was  also  wont  to  say :  "I  am  pretty 
sure  that  a  single  Communion  made  with  true  spirit  and  sentiment,  is 
apt  to  raise  the  soul  to  a  great  perfection  of  life."  Sometimes  she  called 
to  herself  some  sister,  and  with  many  sighs  and  tears,  told  her :  u  Let 
us  pray  to  the  Lord,  sister,  that  He  may  grant  us  light  that  we  may  not 
grow  so  cold  and  frozen  in  His  service,  and  particularly  in  frequenting 
this  Food  of  Life." 

Among  the  fruits  she  attributed  to  the  frequent  receiving  of  Jesus 
in  the  Sacrament  for  the  benefit  of  her  monastery,  was  the  detachment 
and  seclusion  from  the  society  of  seculars,  which  she  remarked  in  all  the 
sisters,  and  in  which  .311^  felt  immense  consolation.  Encouraging  those 
who,  through  pusillanimity  and  excessive  fear  abstained  sometimes  from 
receiving  their  Spouse  Jesus  in  the  Host,  she  used  to  say  to  them : 
"Offer  to  God  in  reparation  all  the  actions  you  perform,  and  perform 
them  with  the  intention  of  pleasing  His  Divine  Majesty,  then  go  to 
Communion  with  purity  of  heart  and  with  humility,  in  memory  of  His 
Passion,  as  He  has  ordained."  Again:  "As  a  preparation,  think 
attentively  and  try  to  penetrate  the  fact  that  what  you  receive  is  God, 
Who  gave  Himself  to  us,  through  love ;  and  therefore  He  wants  to  be 
received  with  feelings  of  great  love  and  gratitude."  Sometimes  she 
suggested  that,  the  better  to  prepare  one's  self,  a  Communion  would  be 
offered  on  behalf  of  another,  as  to  a  frequent  communicant  one  is  a 
preparation  for  the  other;  and  she  taught  that  from  Communion  to 
Vesper  time,  one  should  be  exclusively  engaged  in  thanking  Jesus, 
Whom  one  has  received ;  and  from  Vesper  time  till  the  morning  follow 
ing,  in  preparing,  by  thinking  of  Him  Who  is  to  be  received  again  in 
the  next  Communion.  Among  other  reflections  she  suggested  for  this 
purpose,  were  the  following  ones:  "Think  you  have  to  perform  the 
greatest  action  that  can  be  performed  in  this  world,  that  is,  to  receive 
within  you  the  great  God.  Think  that  whilst  you  deserve  to  be  hurled 
into  hell,  Jesus,  through  His  goodness,  shows  you  so  much  mercy,  that 
He  gives  Himself  to  you  in  the  Most  Holy  Sacrament:  what  purity 
should  your  heart  possess,  having  to  receive  the  Fount  of  purity!" 
Moreover,  she  regarded  it  of  the  highest  importance  to  approach  Holy 
Communion  free  not  only  from  anger,  but  even  from  the  slightest 
bitterness  towards  our  neighbor,  as  a  Sacrament  of  love  should  not  be 
received  if  fraternal  charity  does  not  exist.  "  If  you  have  anything," 
she  used  to  say,  "against  any  sister,  try,  before  you  go  to  Communion,  to 
feel  within  yourselves  interior  sweetness  towards  all;  and  when  you  do 
not  feel  it,  ask  it  of  Jesus,  until  He  gives  it  to  you.  And  if  you 
experience  a  prompt  determination  to  lay  down  your  life  and  blood  for 
that  sister,  in  case  the  will  of  God  required  it,  go  then  freely  to  Holy 
Communion."  For  the  same  exercise  of  charity,  she  recommended  that, 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  175 

in  preparation,  one  should  have  a  desire  to  benefit  the  whole  world,  and 
ask  God  to  grant  a  hunger  for  this  Sacred  Food  to  all  faithful  souls. 

She  did  not  like  to  see  the  sisters  going  to  work  through  the  mon 
astery  so  soon  after  Communion,  but  wished  them  to  remain  for  a  while 
to  enjoy  the  presence  of  their  Divine  Guest,  making  them  reflect  that  this 
was  the  most  precious  time  we  have  in  this  life,  and  the  most  appropriate 
to  treat  with  God  and  give  Him  the  opportunity  to  purify,  enlighten, 
and  sanctify  our  souls.  Hence  she  taught  them  to  employ  that  time  in 
loving  aspirations,  praise,  thanksgiving,  and  offering  of  themselves  to 
God  ;  and  that  there  was  no  means  more  efficacious  to  perfect  a  soul  than 
the  spending  of  the  time  after  Holy  Communion  in  such  pious  exercises, 
as  the  person  who  learns  from  Jesus  needs  no  other  books  or  teachers. 
What  a  shower  of  heavenly  sweetness  would  fall  on  herself,  and  what 
flames  of  divine  love  she  would  send  forth  to  heaven  after  feeding  her 
soul  with  the  Bread  of  Angels,  he  may  imagine  who  reads  the  history  of 
her  life  and  the  sublime  knowledge  with  which  she  was  privileged. 

On  the  1 2th  of  February,  1584,  as  the  nuns  could  not  receive  Com 
munion  sacramen tally,  they  had  come  together,  according  to  the  above- 
mentioned  custom,  for  their  spiritual  communion.  Magdalen,  being 
very  anxious  to  feed  on  the  Bread  of  L,ife,  began  to  pray  with  the  others, 
and,  being  soon  rapt  in  ecstasy,  was  consoled  by  a  joyful  vision,  in 
which,  with  the  eyes  of  her  angelic  mind,  she  again  saw  St.  Albert  the 
Carmelite,  who  held  in  his  hand  the  pyx  of  the  Most  Holy  Sacrament, 
took  out  the  Host  and  gave  Communion  to  all  those  who  greatly  ivished 
for  it,  passing  by  the  others ;  and,  having  thus  completed  the  act  in  that 
place,  he  went  through  the  monastery  to  give  Communion  to  some 
others  desirous  of  it,  but  who  through  obedience  were  engaged  in  some 
community  work,  giving  to  them  words  of  consolation,  whilst  to  her  he 
said  :  4 '  Know  that  though  these  brides  of  God  neither  feel  nor  see  that 
I,  blessed  soul,  give  them  Communion ;  they  are,  nevertheless,  enriched 
and  favored,  through  me,  with  all  the  gifts  and  graces  they  would  have 
received  if  they  had,  in  fact,  received  Holy  Communion ;  and  though  I 
may  not  be  by  them  loved  as  a  father  and  held  in  that  veneration  they 
owe  me,  as  one  who  has  battled  under  the  same  banner  of  the  Virgin 
Mary  under  which  they  battle,  I  would  not,  nevertheless,  keep  myself 
from  proving  to  them  a  loving  father  by  ministering  to  them  the  Food 
of  Life." 

On  Good  Friday  of  the  same  year,  she  understood  the  new  exercises 
she  was  to  perform  when  she  could  not  receive  Holy  Communion ;  and  it 
seeming  to  her  that  her  soul  was  dipped  thrice  in  His  sacred  side,  after  a 
short  silence,  being  rapt  in  ecstasy,  she  spoke  as  follows:  "I  will  not  ask 
Thee,  O  my  God,  that  Thou  come  to  me  sacramentally,  as  Thy  Church 
ordains  otherwise  ;  but  rather  do  I  ask  of  Thee  the  knowledge  of  Thee 
and  of  myself,  for,  if  I  get  that,  I  know  I  will  love  Thee,  and  if  I  have 
Thy  love,  how  canst  Thou  not  come  to  me,  that  love  being  the  cause  of 
making  the  soul  come  to  Thee  ?  Should  I  receive  Thee  sacramentally 
without  this  love,  Thou  wouldst  pass  by  and  wouldst  not  dwell  in  my  soul. 
What  shall  I  do,  O  Word,  in  that  day  when  I  cannot  sacramentally 
receive  Thee?  First,  redouble  the  above  knowledge ;  secondly,  multiply 


prayer ;  thirdly,  examine  my  conscience  more  fervently  and  carefully, 
and  have  contrition  for  my  sins  and  imperfections  ;  fourthly,  more  often 
raise  my  mind  to  Thee;  fifthly,  be  more  sober  in  speaking;  sixthly,  more 
circumspect  in  temptation  ;  seventhly,  more  God-fearing  in  all  my  actions 
and  operations  ;  eighthly,  more  affable  in  conversation,  with  a  resolution 
to  bear  patiently  everything  contrary ;  ninthly,  in  fine,  and  in  conclusion 
and  fulfillment  of  all  other  things,  be  more  prompt  to  obey  my  superiors, 
equals,  and  inferiors.  If  Thou  dost  the  will  of  those  who  obey,  as  Thou 
sayest  that  Thou  dost ;  then  if  I  shall  be  obedient  and  pray  to  Thee  to 
unite  Thyself  to  me,  Thou  shalt  do  my  will.  I  go  to  receive  Thee,  to 
honor  Thee,  to  unite  with  Thee,  for  the  repose  of  the  souls  in  purgatory, 
and  to  make  a  commemoration  of  Thy  Passion  in  that  most  Holy 
Sacrament.  If  I  shall  not  be  able  during  these  days  to  make  this 
commemoration,  I  will  pass  to  that  which,  shortly  after,  Thou  didst 
make  in  the  garden:  " Non  mea  voluntas,  scd  tua" — "Not  my  will, 
but  Thine  be  done"  (Luke  xxii,  42).  I  can  also  afford  relief  to  the  souls 
in  purgatory  by  performing  acts  of  charity,  reciting  psalms,  and  making 
an  offering  to  Thee  of  Thy  blood."  Here  she  made  in  silence  a  longer 
pause,  after  which  she  ended  with  these  words  :  "  Two  more,  and  then  it 
is  done."  She  meant  to  say  that  Jesus  had  to  dip  her  twice  more  in  His 
side,  and  then  the  seven  dips  were  completed  which  the  Divine  Spouse 
had  promised  to  give  to  this  beloved  soul,  in  order  to  purify  her  with 
His  Blood  and  bring  her  to  the  highest  perfection  that  can  be  attained 
during  this  earthly  life. 

As  a  reverent  desire  to  frequent  the  Eucharistic  Banquet  is  a  token 
of  conscientious  purity,  so  the  nausea  and  indifference  which  most 
people  feel  for  It  indicate  an  impure  and  guilty  heart.  He  who 
approaches  it  simply  because  he  is  forced  by  the  precept  of  the  Church, 
gives  evidence  of  knowing  very  little  of  the  excellence  of  this  gift ;  and 
he  who  even  refuses  to  comply  with  this  duty,  shows  a  reprobate  soul, 
that  to  the  excess  of  love  opposes  the  excess  of  ingratitude.  This 
perfidy  was  to  the  Heart  of  Christ  a  sword  which  pierced  it  and  caused 
it  the  most  acute  pain;  of 'it  He  always  complained:  "  Filio  s  nutrivi 
et  exaltavi:  ipsiautem  spreverunt  me" — "I  have  brought  up  children  and 
exalted  them  ;  but  they  have  despised  me  "  (Isai.  i,  2).  He  wished  with 
the  most  ardent  desire  to  institute  this  Fountain  of  our  salvation,  in  which 
He  gives  us  to  drink  His  Blood,  the  Well-spring  of  all  our  good.  He 
hunts  up  men;  to  them  He  is  longing  to  give  Himself;  to  them  He  says 
from  the  sacred  ciborinms :  "  Come  to  Me,  O  all  ye  who  are  oppressed  by 
the  labors  of  humanity,  and  I  will  give  you  comfort  and  strength."  The 
Eternal  Father  from  above  those  tabernacles  cries  out,  too:  "  Hie  est 
Filiusmeus  delectus.  .  .  .  Ipsum  audite" — "This  is  My  beloved  Son, hear 
Him  "  (Luke  ix,  35).  He  offers  to  us  His  beloved  Son,  from  whom  we 
may  learn  wisdom,  fortitude,  and  all  the  virtues  we  need.  In  a  word, 
the  Communion  of  the  Body  and  Blood  of  Christ  with  His  Divinity 
is  the  greatest  effusion  He  can  make  of  His  goodness,  because  it  is 
Himself,  than  Whom  no  greater  good  exists.  And  thus,  on  out  part,  we 
manifest  the  most  monstrous  ingratitude  towards  this  Divine  Benefactor, 
and  cause  to  ourselves  the  greatest  misfortune.  Not  a  few  even  go  so 

She  sees  the  glory  that  the  Jesuit,  St.  Aloysius  Gonzaga,  enjoys 
in  heaven  (page  116). 



far  as  to  criticise  the  Church,  because  she  compels  her  children  to 
receive  Holy  Communion  annually.  Besides  the  total  want  of  cor 
respondence  of  love  towards  God,  these  also  manifest  that  their  spirit 
makes  a  bad  use  of  the  faculty  which  distinguishes  man  from  other 
animals.  The  Church  as  a  society  is  within  her  strict  right  in  regard  to 
the  test  by  which  she  wants  to  recognize  her  members  ;  and  the  act  of 
humility  which  she  orders  to  precede  it  is  but  the  foundation  of  the  spirit 
of  the  true  believer.  If  she  adds  the  command  to  a  law  of  love,  this 
results  but  in  the  condemnation  of  the  faithful  who  are  reluctant  to 
submit  to  the  sweet  yoke  of  Christ ;  hence  it  well  accords  with  reason 
that  for  this  refusal  they  are  adjudged  as  members  cut  off  from  the  Holy 
Catholic  communion. 





IS  is  the  natural  prerogative  of  perfect  love  towards  God, 
Magdalen  found  her  delight  not  only  in  contemplating  Him 
glorified  in  heaven  and  praised  by  creatures,  but  ardently 
wished  to  diffuse  among  her  neighbors  the  divine  flame 
which  was  burning  in  her  own  heart.  Every  action,  affec 
tion,  and  thought  of  hers  had  no  other  object  than  God's 
glory  ;  her  fervent  sighs  flew  like  darts  to  this  aim.  With 
a  cheerful  spirit  she  undertook  every  labor  for  the  glory  of 
God  ;  and  for  this  she  asserted  that,  if  it  had  been  possible,  she  would  have 
given  her  life  a  thousand  times  a  day.  Oh  !  how  many  times  was  she 
heard  to  exclaim,  during  her  ecstasies,  with  glowing  fervor :  u  Blessed 
and  happy  would  I  be  were  I  to  be  found  worthy  of  giving  my  life  and 
blood  for  Thy  glory,  O  my  God  ! "  At  the  ringing  of  the  bell  calling 
the  nuns  to  the  choir  for  the  divine  praises,  she  sometimes  said  to  those 
who  happened  to  be  with  her  :  u  Lo  !  the  voice  of  God  calls  us  ;  let  us 
not  be  deaf  to  it  ;  let  us  not  fail  to  do  what  it  demands  of  us ;  let  us  go 
and  praise  God." 

The  great  fervor  with  which  she  recited  the  ecclesiastical  prayers, 
she  wished  to  see  also  in  all  creatures,  and  above  all  in  her  com 
panions  of  the  monastery;  to  whom,  if  an  opportunity  presented  itself, 
she  addressed  words  of  complacency,  of  encouragement,  or  reproach, 
according  to  the  needs  of  each  one  of  them,  to  the  end  that  all  would 
be  as  zealous  as  possible  for  the  honor  and  glory  of  God.  Though  her 
voice  was  weak,  yet  she  made  every  effort  to  keep  up  in  the  choir  the 
canonical  recitation,  when  there  was  need  of  it;  and  when  unable  to  do 
it,  being  overcome  by  the  hurry  of  those  who  had  stronger  voices, 
she  grieved  so  much  thereat  that  she  was  compelled  sometimes  to  ask 
leave  to  come  out  of  the  choir.  At  one  time,  having  left  her  place,  she 
went  before  the  superioress  during  the  recitation  of  the  office,  and,  with 
humility  equal  to  her  zeal,  said  to  her:  "  Mother,  the  psalmody  is  carried 
on  so  hurriedly  that  one  would  think  that  there  is  something  else  to  be 
done  which  is  of  greater  importance  than  this."  Another  day,  seeing 
that  a  chorister  hurried  the  office  too  much,  she  spoke  to  her  as  follows  : 
"Sister,  if  thou  hast  anything  to  do  which  is  more  important  than  this, 
come  out  of  the  choir,  and  go  and  do  it."  She  gave  similar  advice  to 


many,  and  she  used  to  often  say :  "I  dare  not  dispatch  the  divine 
praises  like  the  other  business  of  the  monastery."  Thus  with  her  zeal 
she  brought  the  nuns  to  recite'the  divine  office  very  devoutly  ;  and  she 
noticed  both  in  herself  and  the  others  even  the  smallest  fault,  not  only 
in  the  recitation  but  also  in  the  least  important  ceremonies.  Conse 
quently,  she  once  accused  herself  of  having  paid  more  attention  to  seeing 
that  these  things  were  done  right,  than  of  having  kept  her  mind  fixed 
in  God.  This  fervent  solicitude  was  born  in  her  because  of  the  high 
estimation  in  which  she  held  the  Divine  Office,  the  exercise  of  which 
she  considered  the  principal  one  in  Religion,  after  the  reception  of  the 
sacraments  ;  and,  therefore,  she  was  wont  to  call  it  "  the  exercise  of  the 
angels."  Hence,  she  -used  to  say  that  one  should  assist  in  it  with 
angelic  modesty  and  reverence ;  and  this  she  tried  to  impress  chiefly  on 
her  novices.  As  they  were  going  to  the  choir,  she  sometimes  told  them : 
"  Consider  that  you  go  to  praise  God  with  the  angels  ;  that  you  are  in 
the  presence  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity,  and  that  you  are  not  worthy  of 
being  there ;  and  that  at  every  word  you  ought,  through  reverence,  to 
stoop  to  the  ground." 

There  are  other  instructions  she  used  to  give  them  with  regard  to 
this  exercise  of  the  choir,  which  we  will  relate  when  speaking  about  the 
zeal  for  the  souls  entrusted  to  her  care.  She  was  unable  to  conceive 
how  the  desire  and  zeal  for  God's  glory  should  not  have  been  such  in 
all  creatures  as  she  felt  it  in  herself;  she  really  could  not  see  otherwise. 
Hence,  she  was  sometimes  heard  to  say :  "  It  seems  strange  to  me,  and 
I  avow  it  is  a  thing  I  cannot  understand,  why  there  is  such  a  scarcity  of 
souls  that  hold  the  honor  of  God  in  high  esteem."  And  she  added: 
"Ah!  pray,  sisters,  let  us  compel  Jesus,  with  our  prayers,  always  to 
grant  a  pastor  to  this  place,  who  may  be  zealous  of  God's  honor." 

Having  in  view  also  the  divine  glory,  this  holy  soul  had  the  most 
burning  desire  for  the  conversion  of  heathens  and  the  extirpation  of 
heresies  ;  so  that  she  cherished  a  special  affection  for  those  Regular 
Orders  that  tend  directly  to  the  greater  glory  of  God  and  the  increase  of 
His  kingdom  by  means  of  the  propagation  of  faith  and  the  conversion 
of  souls.  The  same  affection  she  entertained  towards  those  religious 
persons  who  labor  towards  that  end.  Whenever  she  would  hear  some 
thing  read  in  the  refectory  in  which  the  gain  of  some  souls  to  the 
Christian  faith  was  related,  she  manifested  even  exteriorly  the  joy  and 
happiness  of  her  spirit,  and  (as  she  was  wont  to  say)  she  felt  herself 
burning  with  a  feeling  of  peculiar  benevolence  and  esteem  towards  the 
happy  workers  of  such  conversions,  and  was  longing  to  do  the  like, 
herself,  for  the  glory  of  God.  The  life  of  St.  Francis  Xavier,  the  letters 
of  missionaries  from  Japan  relating  the  conversion  of  the  people  of 
that  kingdom,  seemed  to  melt  her  with  a  desire  to  be  there,  too,  to 
cooperate  in  the  salvation  of  those  souls  and  to  suffer  martyrdom  for 
them.  She  envied,  in  a  certain  way,  the  birds  which  have  a  free  and 
easy  access  to  all  the  regions  of  the  world.  She  wished  for  wings  in 
order  to  fly  all  over  the  earth  to  convert  souls  for  the  greater  glory  of 
God.  She  used  to  exclaim  with  an  ardent  sentiment :  "  Oh  !  that  it 
were  given  me  to  go  among  the  heathens  and  even  to  the  Indies,  and 
instruct  those  little  Indian  infants  in  our  faith,  so  that  Jesus  might  have 

l8o  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

those  souls,  and  they  might  have  Jesus ! "  Another  day,  being  in 
ecstasy,  and  speaking  in  general  about  the  heathens,  she  thus  expressed 
herself:  "If  I  could,  I  would  take  them  all  and  bring  them  into  the 
bosom  of  Holy  Church,  there  to  be  by  her  breath  purified  of  all  their 
infidelity  and  regenerated, — as  a  mother  regenerates  her  little  ones, — and 
then  placed  at  her  sweet  breast  to  feed  them  with  the  milk  of  the  most 
holy  sacraments.  And  oh  !  how  well  would  she  feed  and  nurse  them  at 
her  breast!  Oh!  how  gladly  would  I  do  it  if  I  could!"  Thus  pene 
trated  by  this  thought,  when  asleep  she  used  to  dream  and  speak  of  the 
conversion  of  the  heathens.  Being  so  fixed  in  this  thought,  she  im 
agined  sometimes  that  she  was  in  those  places  laying  down  her  life  for 
Christ's  faith.  One  day,  whilst  having  her  hair  cut  off  according  to  the 
custom  of  the  nuns,  she  was  overtaken  by  such  apprehension  that, 
thinking  she  had  her  head  actually  under  the  axe  of  the  executioner, 
ready  to  suffer  martyrdom,  being  alienated  from  her  senses,  she  began 
to  say  :  ( '  Does  he  not  come  ?  Why  does  he  delay  so  long  ?  .  .  . 
Behold,  my  head  is  perfectly  ready. "  And  in  this  wise  she  was  nourish 
ing  in  the  meantime  her  pious  imagination  and  affection. 

In  order  to  realize  to  some  extent  her  most  intense  desire  for  the 
conversion  of  the  heathens,  very  often  she  would  offer  to  God  for  them 
the  blood  of  Jesus,  and  apply  towards  their  conversion  the  works  of 
Religion,  the  Communions,  and  many  of  the  penances  which  she  prac 
ticed.  She  also  tried  effectually  to  inspire  the  same  sentiments  she  felt 
in  all  those  who  conversed  with  her,  especially  those  of  the  monastery 
who  were  committed  to  her  direction.  Hence  calling  the  novices  often 
together  to  work  or  various  exercises  of  the  community,  being  intent  in 
a  particular  manner  upon  the  conversion  of  the  Indians,  she  used  to  say  to 
them :  "  Let  us  offer  to  God  for  the  heathens  whatever  we  shall  do 
to-day ;  "  or  "  Let  us  ask  of  God  as  many  of  those  souls  as  we  shall  take 
steps  through  the  monastery  ; "  or  "  Let  us  ask  for  as  many  of  them  as 
we  shall  say  words  in  the  Divine  Office."  When  they  were  sewing,  she 
was  wont  to  say :  ' ( Let  us  ask  for  as  many  as  we  will  make  stitches 
with  a  needle."  When  washing  the  linen,  she  exhorted  them  to  ask  for 
as  many  of  them  as  the  number  of  times  they  dipped  their  hands  into 
the  water ;  in  a  word,  she  used  to  take  advantage  of  every  exercise  to 
make  such  petitions  to  God. 

She  also  grieved  greatly  because  the  spirit  of  innovation  was  creep 
ing  so  much  among  Christians  as  to  plunge  many  of  them  into  heretical 
errors.  She  was  wont  to  weep  because  even  men  of  high  learning, 
beguiled  and  seduced  by  strange  passions,  renounced  the  purity  of  the 
faith  of  their  fathers,  sometimes  for  the  simple  reason  that  the  ministers 
of  the  sanctuary  were  not  worthy  of  their  vocation.  So  insane  a  pretext, 
so  often  thrust  forth,  is  a  very  evident  proof  of  the  association  of  vicious 
morals  with  willful  ignorance  in  matters  of  religion.  Impiety  marks 
the  soul  of  him  who,  being  raised  in  the  way  of  the  Lord,  as  shown  us 
by  revelation — the  deposit  of  which  is  only  in  the  Church  instituted  by 
Christ — turns  elsewhere,  either  to  listen  to  the  foolish  derisions  of  an 
apostate  or  to  those  of  his  own  intellect  corrupted  by  the  passions. 
Magdalen  considering  the  perverse  heresies  of  such  people,  and  the 
havoc  they  make  of  souls,  used  to  call  them  cursed,  according  to  the 


language  of  the  prophet — incarnate  devils,  poisoned  tongues,  trying,  as 
far  as  they  could  by  their  words  and  deeds,  to  rend  and  tear  the  garment 
of  Christ,  which  is  the  Holy  Church.  "  Our  souls  ought  to  be,"  she 
used  to  say, "  like  so  many  turtledoves,  always  grieving  and  weeping 
over  their  great  blindness. " 

No  less  pain  did  she  feel  in  seeing  Catholics  so  ill  corresponding  to 
the  principles  of  faith  which  they  boast  of  professing.  Very  often,  and 
with  very  great  fervor,  she  used  to  pray  to  God  that  she  might  revive 
the  faith  in  the  followers  of  Catholicity,  and,  with  faith,  all  the  virtues 
it  begets.  In  an  ecstasy,  with  feelings  of  the  most  bitter  anguish,  she 
thus  expressed  herself:  "And  of  what  avail  is  faith  to  one  who  profits 
not  by  it?  Sow  it,  sow  it,  O  Word,  living  and  ardent  in  the  heart  of 
Thy  faithful  ones,  after  warming  and  kindling  it  in  the  furnace  of  Thy 
Heart  and  Thy  infinite  charity,  so  that  the  faith  of  Thy  faithful  ones 
may  correspond  to  their  works,  and  their  works  may  correspond  to  their 
faith.  Alas  !  unhappy  me  !  how  many  shipwrecks  in  the  faith  !  But 
why  ?  Because  charity  was  already  extinguished.  Thy  faith  makes  the 
journey  of  the  sun  ;  here  it  was  born,  there  it  sets.  And  what  is  the 
sign  given  of  this  setting  of  the  sun  ?  The  darkness  of  the  sins  which 
are  seen  committed  everywhere."  Being  stimulated  more  and  more  by 
these  sentiments,  she  used  to  add  :  "  Oh  !  that  some  one  would  take  my 
life  and  make  me  shed  all  my  blood,  so  that  this  faith,  lit  up  in  Thy 
Blood  and  revived  in  Thy  charity,  would  be  propagated  among  all  those 
who  profess  Thy  faith!" 

With  similar  love  and  zeal,  she  daily  recommended  to  God  the 
Holy  Church  and  the  Sovereign  Pontiff,  and  saw  to  it  that  her  disciples 
did  likewise.  On  asking  one  of  the  sisters  one  evening,  whether  during 
the  day  she  had  prayed  for  the  Church  and  for  the  Pope,  and  the  sister 
answering  No,  Magdalen,  greatly  struck  with  such  lack  of  zeal,  told  her: 
*  *  What  sort  of  a  bride  art  thou  who  dost  not  recommend  the  Church  to 
God  every  day?  "  Showing  by  these  words  that  it  was  a  special  obli 
gation  of  nuns  to  recommend  daily  the  Church  to  God  in  their  prayers, 
so  that  His  representative  may  obtain  from  her  children  love,  confidence, 
and  union.  The  desire  for  the  glory  of  God  became,  therefore,  in  the 
heart  of  Magdalen  one  with  that  for  the  salvation  of  souls,  in  which  God 
seemed  to  have  wholly  immersed  her ;  hence,  while  ecstatic,  she  spoke 
one  day  as  follows  :  "Collocavit  me  Verbum  in  desiderio  q^iod  Ipse  habuit 
in  humanitate  sua  " — "  The  Word  placed  in  me  the  wish  He  had  in  His 
humanity."  And  she  felt  within  herself  such  a  zeal  that  nothing  was 
wanting,  in  the  limited  capacity  of  a  creature,  to  imitate  that  which  our 
Divine  Redeemer  had  for  the  salvation  of  men. 

This  zeal  was  to  the  heart  of  Magdalen  both  a  delight  and  a  martyr 
dom  at  the  same  time  ;  delight,  because  in  her  trials,  temptations,  and 
aridities  she  found  consolation  in  her  being  able  to  offer  to  God  some 
tribute  of  expiation  and  intercession  for  the  salvation  of  souls.  One  day 
especially,  being  oppressed  by  the  weightiest  anguish,  it  seeming  to  her 
as  if  she  were  almost  forsaken  by  her  Spouse  Jesus,  at  first  she  thus  ad 
dressed  Him:  UO  Word,  my  Spouse,  yet  Thou  art  in  me  and  I  in  Thee! 
0  bcme  Jesu,  why  dost  Thou  not  help  me?"  Repeating  many  times 
"0  bone  Jesu,"  but  without  any  relief  to  her  painful  situation,  she  had 


recourse  afterwards  to  this  desire  for  the  salvation  of  souls,  saying : 
"Sursum  corda:  habemus  ad  desiderium  salutis  animarum  omnium 
credentium  " — "  Lift  up  your  hearts  :  let  us  burn  with  the  desire  for  the 
salvation  of  the  souls  of  all  believers."  And  every  temptation  vanished 
immediately,  her  spirit  being  immersed  in  light,  peace,  and  joy.  On 
the  other  hand,  this  zeal  was  a  martyrdom  to  her,  because,  as  it  never  left 
her  heart,  it  consumed  her  day  and  night.  In  an  ecstasy,  speaking  with 
God  of  this  desire,  she  used  the  expressions  of  the  prophet  David  alluding 
to  the  Divine  Redeemer :  "Desiderium  animarum  tuarum  comcdit  me"- 
"  Lord,  the  desire  of  the  salvation  of  Thy  souls  has  consumed  me." 
And  shortly  afterward  she  added:  "Conserva  me,  Domine,  quoniam  in 
desiderio  animarum  consumpta  est  anima  w^# "-2-u  Keep  me,  O  Lord; 
as  my  soul  is  consumed  by  the  desire  for  souls."  The  sisters  who  con 
versed  more  intimately  with  her  testified  that  this  desire  was  so  intense 
and  continuous  in  her,  that  scarcely  an  hour  passed  without  her  mani 
festing  it  by  some  word  or  action.  Far  from  its  leaving  her  memory  by 
any  exercise  whatsoever,  it  rather  happened  (and  this  not  seldom)  that, 
whilst  in  company  with  the  other  sisters,  she  would  leave  suddenly  and 
betake  herself  to  the  choir  or  elsewhere,  to  prostrate  herself  before  God 
and  implore  the  conversion  of  sinners. 

As  to  the  offenses  offered  to  God  by  so  many  ungrateful  Christians, 
they  were  the  principal  cause  of  her  martyrdom.  To  make  reparation 
for  them  in  some  measure,  very  often  she  would  rise  about  midnight, 
and  going  before  the  Blessed  Sacrament,  there  prostrated,  she  was  wont 
to  bewail,  with  the  bitterest  tears,  the  offenses  offered  by  sinners  to  the 
Divine  Goodness,  and  to  humbly  plead  for  their  salvation.  At  the 
times  when  God  is  more  offended  by  men,  as  in  the  carnival  season,  we 
have  already  mentioned  how  she  redoubled  her  prayers  and  penances  for 
the  sinners,  and  exhorted  her  companions  of  the  monastery  to  do  the 
same.  One  night  preceding  Shrove -Thursday,  calling,  as  usual,  all 
the  nuns  to  matin,  she  asked  some  to  join  her,  and  she  and  they  went 
through  the  dormitory  scourging  themselves,  and  inviting  the  others  to 
praise  God  and  to  expiate  with  penances  the  faults  of  men.  During 
Lent  she  also  prayed  to  God  with  increased  fervor,  that  He  would  grant 
light  and  strength  to  sinning  souls,  so  that  they  might  profit  by  so 
propitious  a  time. 

Notwithstanding  so  great  a  zeal,  Magdalen  grieved  very  much  at 
being  unable  to  contribute  to  the  conversion  and  salvation  of  others, 
according  to  her  wish.  The  great  work  she  was  already  doing  towards 
that  end  seemed  nothing  to  her;  hence,  in  an  ecstasy,  she  complained 
that  she  could  not  find  anyone  to  fill  the  desire  of  her  soul  by  giving  her 
some  opportunity  of  cooperating  with  such  in  the  good  of  souls,  and 
these  were  her  words:  "  Consider  abam  ^  ad  dexter  am  et  videbam,  et  non 
erat  qui  impleret  desiderium  animce  me<z" — u  I  looked  on  my  right  hand, 
and  beheld  (Ps.  cxli,  5),  and  there  was  not  one  that  would  fill  the  wish 
of  my  soul."  One  day,  being  found  weeping  excessively  in  a  remote 
place,  and  being  asked  the  reason  of  her  tears,  she  answered :  "I  weep, 
because  it  seems  to  me  that  I  am  idle  and  do  nothing  in  the  service  of 
God  and  for  the  salvation  of  souls."  On  being  visited  by  a  good  servant 
of  God,  who  labored  greatly  in  Florence  for  the  conversion  of  sinners, 


and  on  his  telling  her  of  his  many  troubles  in  bringing  souls  to  God, 
she  on  the  one  hand  rejoiced  very  much  at  this,  but  on  the  other 
hand  broke  into  bitter  weeping,  considering  it  to  be  a  great  shame  for 
her  that  a  lay-person  could  be  so  zealous,  whilst  she,  according  to  her 
way  of  judging  herself,  did  not  do  anything  in  this  matter.  Often  would 
she  say  to  the  sisters  :  "  L,et  us  not  permit  lay-people  to  excel  us,"  and 
she  would  subjoin  with  great  feeling :  "  We  must  give  an  account  to 
God,  not  only  of  the  evil  deeds  which  we  shall  have  committed,  but  also 
of  the  good  we  might  have  performed  and  which  we  omitted.  God  did 
not  separate  us  from  the  world  that  we  might  be  good  only  for  ourselves, 
but  that  we  might  help  our  neighbors  with  our  prayers  and  penances, 
and  appease  His  wrath  against  sinners;  this  is  our  mission."  In  order 
the  more  to  enkindle  in  herself  and  others  the  fervor  of  this  desire,  she 
used  to  often  repeat:  "Who  knows  but  many  souls,  perhaps,  have  failed 
to  be  converted  because  we  have  not  been  fervent  in  praying  to  God  for 
them?"  At  other  times  she  used  to  say,  according  to  the  language  of 
St.  Catherine  of  Siena,  that  God  complained  at  not  having  in  this  world 
anyone  who  opposed  His  wrath  and  appeased  Him ;  and  she  added : 
"  We,  sisters,  must  render  to  God  an  account  for  many  souls  that  are 
to-day  burning  in  hell  ;  forr  if  you  and  I  had  been  fervent  in  prayer,  and 
in  offering  the  Blood  of  Jesus  for  them,  and  in  warmly  recommending  them 
to  God,  He,  perhaps,  would  have  been  appeased,  and  they  would  not  be 
in  the  midst  of  those  torments.  Let  us  offer  then,  daily,  to  God  the 
Blood  of  His  Divine  Son  for  sinners,  and  let  us  undergo  any  suffering  to 
obtain  their  conversion."  As  the  delight  she  felt  in  asking  of  God  the 
salvation  of  souls  comforted  her  in  every  tribulation  of  spirit,  so  it  also 
helped  to  encourage  and  comfort  her  tepid  and  melancholy  disciples  ; 
hence,  on  seeing  one  of  them  afflicted,  she  was  wont  to  speak  to  her 
thus:  "Thou  hast  not  the  love  of  God;  why  dost  thou  remain  so? 
Thou  wouldst  do  better  to  think  about  the  salvation  of  some  soul,  and 
go  and  snatch  it  from  the  claws  of  the  devil  and  gain  it  over  to  God." 
And  she  suggested  to  her  some  prayer  to  be  recited  for  this  object, 
assuring  her  that  she  would  obtain  everything  from  God,  whenever  she 
would  supplicate  Him  with  lively  faith.  "  O  novices  !  "  she  also  used 
to  say,  "could  you  see  the  beauty  of  a  soul  in  the  grace  of  God,  you 
would  become  so  enamored  of  it  that  you  could  do  nothing  else  but  ask 
souls  of  God  ;  and,  on  the  contrary,  were  a  soul  in  the  state  of  sin  to  be 
shown  you,  you  would  hate  sin  more  than  the  devil  himself,  and  pray 
always  for  the  conversion  of  sinners. ' ' 

As  an  infallible  proof  of  the  great  zeal  of  Mary  Magdalen  for  the 
conversion  and  salvation  of  sinners,  it  must  be  added  that  she  actually 
martyred  her  body,  and  asked  God  always  for  infirmities  and  trials,  to 
expiate  the  sins  and  procure  the  salvation  of  sinners.  Whatever  pun 
ishment  they  deserved,  even  if  it  had  been  the  pains  of  purgatory, 
she  wished  it  to  fall  on  herself.  And  going  farther,  she  came  even  to 
offering  herself  spontaneously  to  God  to  stay  in  hell  to  suffer  for  the 
salvation  of  others,  provided  she  would  not  there  curse  and  blaspheme 
His  Divine  Majesty.  Hence  she  once  said  in  an  ecstasy,  that  if  a  person 
were  to  be  sent  to  hell  (without  offending  God),  for  the  sincere  con 
version  of  a  soul,  he  should  glory  in  it,  as  this  all  tends  to  the  pure 

184  THE   UFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

honor  of  God ;  so  great  was  the  esteem  in  which  she  held  the  salvation 
of  souls.  For  this  work  she  postponed  not  only  all  her  temporal,  but 
also  her  spiritual  interests  ;  hence  when  opportunity  was  offered  her  to 
help  some  soul  in  jeopardy,  she  did  not  hesitate  to  give  up  not  only 
every  comfort,  and  frequently  the  very  necessaries  of  life,  but  also  her 
prayers  and  other  devout  exercises  ;  and  for  this  end  also  she  often  pro 
tested  to  God  that  she  would  very  willingly  submit  to  being  deprived 
of  every  spiritual  sentiment  and  taste  and  left  only  with  her  will,  by 
which  she  might  love  and  serve  God  alone. 

Besides  the  above-described  five  years  of  probation,  which  show 
how  far  God  answered  this  desire  of  His  faithful  servant,  we  will  see 
later  how  her  desire  was  complied  with — now  by  means  of  serious  and 
long  illness,  now  by  means  of  trials  and  desolations  of  spirit.  Neverthe 
less  this  thirst  of  ^ hers  was  never  quenched ;  nay,  the  more  pains  she 
endured  for  this  end,  the  more  she  wished  to  endure  ;  and,  as  one  enam 
ored  of  suffering,  she  was  wont  to  say  it  was  her  sovereign  consolation 
to  suffer,  and  called  this  her  glorious  pain.  In  an  ecstasy  she  also  de 
clared  that,  on  the  contrary,  not  to  suffer  was  to  her  a  great  torment, 
meaning  that  it  was  a  greater  torment  for  her  soul  to  be  deprived 
of  suffering  for  the  conversion  of  sinners,  than  the  enduring  of  any 
suffering,  no  matter  how  severe ;  as  in  this  she  felt  so  much  delight, 
that  it  overcame  any  pain.  At  another  time,  being  also  alienated 
from  her  senses,  on  fervently  recommending  to  God  the  salvation  of 
souls,  she  was  heard  to  say :  *  *  For  whom  at  all  hours  and  at  all  moments 
I  would  willingly  suffer  martyrdom,  and,  if  it  were  possible,  even  a 
thousand  deaths.  .  .  .  Oh  !  how  happy  and  fortunate  would  I  not  be,  were 
I  granted  this  grace  I  so  much  wish  for!"  Another  day,  feeling  the 
same  desire  of  being  martyred  for  the  salvation  of  souls,  she  said : 
"Martyrdom  would  not  be  martyrdom  to  me,  but  a  paradise."  On 
various  occasions  she  also  said  that  she  wished  she  could  die  a  thousand 
times,  in  order  to  be  able  (rising  each  time)  to  give  life  to  a  thousand 
souls.  One  morning  in  particular,  being  inflamed  with  this  holy  fervor, 
she  took  the  Crucifix  in  her  hands,  and  with  the  greatest  ardor  of 
charity,  thus  said  to  Him  :  "  Thou,  O  Lord,  hast  wanted  to  die  on  the 
cross  and  give  all  Thy  blood  for  sinners;  I,  too,  O  my  God,  would  like  to 
give  my  blood  and  be  deprived  of  life,  that  they  might  be  converted." 
Once,  in  prayer,  God  showing  Himself  to  her  as  angry  with  sinners,  she, 
wishing  to  assuage  His  anger,  addressed  to  the  Divine  Word  these 
forcible  words  :  "  O  Word,  why  dost  Thou  not  make  me  taste  hell  and 
lose  my  life,  so  that,  at  least  partially,  the  wrath  of  Thy  Father  may  be 
appeased?  "  In  a  word,  she  never  was  without  these  ardent  desires  ;  so 
that  like  St.  Paul,  in  the  excess  of  charity  for  the  salvation  of  other  souls, 
she  postponed  her  own,  and  the  glory  of  her  soul  to  theirs ;  hence  in 
a  rapture,  asking  of  God  the  conversion  of  some  persons,  she  emphatic 
ally  said  :  "  Lord,  unless  Thou  gran  test  me  the  grace  of  giving  me  these 
souls  which  I  ask  of  Thee,  I  will  say  that  I  do  not  want  to  come  and 
enjoy  the  glory  Thou  hast  prepared  for  me."  In  another  ecstasy  she 
protested  that  if  our  Lord  had  asked  her,  as  He  did  St.  Thomas  Aquinas, 
what  reward  she  wished  for  her  labors,  nothing  else  would  she  have 
asked  Him  but  the  salvation  of  souls. 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  185 

Though  this  zeal  was  a  spontaneous  and  natural  consequence  of  that 
divine  flame  which  was  burning  in  her  heart,  yet  she  omitted  not 
to  apply  herself  to  those  peculiar  reflections  which  were  most  apt  to  pro 
mote  it  in  her  and  make  it  of  the  greatest  efficacy  in  others.  First,  she 
considered  the  love  God  bore  and  bears  to  souls,  how  much  the  Divine  Son 
suffered  for  them  on  earth,  and  that  they  are  the  inheritance  given  by 
the  Eternal  Father  to  Jesus  Christ.  Afterwards,  she  thought  how 
beautiful  a  thing  is  a  soul  in  the  state  of  grace,  how  God  likes  it,  and 
how  great  a  good  it  is  for  the  soul  itself.  On  the  other  hand,  she  would 
reflect  how  ugly  and  horrible  is  a  soul  in  mortal  sin,  and  what  a  bad 
state  it  is  to  be  in.  She  plunged  herself  so  deeply  in  these  and  the  like 
thoughts,  that  she  often  merited  in  her  ecstasies  to  see  souls  in  one  or 
the  other  of  these  states — the  beauty  of  those  in  the  state  of  grace,  and 
the  horrible  appearance  of  those  in  the  state  of  sin. 

To  proceed  on  this  subject,  putting  it  all  in  one  chapter,  it  is  neces 
sary  to  show  here  at  greater  length  by  what  anguish  her  soul  was  oppressed 
at  the  sight  of  the  grave  and  multiplied  offenses  which  men  offer  to  God, 
without  her  having  any  hope  of  stopping  them,  as  she  wished  with  an 
immense  desire.  In  an  ecstasy  in  which  God  showed  to  her  the  hearts 
of  sinners,  she  broke  out  in  these  words:  "Who  will  be  able  to  take 
away  so  much  malice  from  the  hearts  of  creatures?  It  is  certain  that  no  th 
ing  less  than  Thy  charity  and  goodness,  O  my  God,  is  required.  .  .  .  Ah!  if 
I  were  made  worthy  of  giving  my  life  for  the  salvation  of  Thy  creatures, 
and  in  order  to  remove  so  much  malice,  what  a  comfort  it  would  be  to 
me  !  A  great  thing  it  is  to  live  and  yet  to  die  continually.  Oh !  what  a 
great  torment  it  is  to  see  that  I  might  be  of  some  benefit  to  Thy 
creatures,  by  laying  down  my  life,  and  yet  I  cannot  do  it!"  And  feeling 
herself  consumed  by  this  zeal,  she  used  to  say:  "O  charity,  thou  art  a 
file,  which,  little  by  little,  consumest  the  soul  and  the  body,  and 
constantly  feedest  the  soul  and  the  body." 

She  detested  the  malice  of  men  with  the  following  expressions : 
' ( Alas !  these  men,  so  full  of  malice,  seem  to  me  not  men  but  demons. 
And  what  do  the  demons  practice  but  malice  ?  Their  exercise  is  nothing 
but  malice  in  order  to  deceive  truth."  Unable  to  bear  the  sight  of  so 
much  iniquity  in  creatures,  she  used  to  say:  "  Whither  shall  I  go? 
Whither  shall  I  turn,  O  my  God,  so  that  I  shall  not  see  Thee 
offended?  Everywhere,  everywhere  I  see  malice  abounding."  And, 
praying  for  the  conversion  of  sinners,  she  used  to  repeat:  UO  Father, 
O  Word,  O  Spirit,  O  Triune  and  One  God,  grant  light  to  every 
man,  so  that  by  it  everyone  may  know,  and  partially,  at  least,  com 
prehend  his  malice."  Feeling  the  ardent  desire  to  cooperate  with  this 
conversion  also,  she  continued  :  "  Grant  me  the  grace  that  I  may  satisfy 
for  them  by  laying  down  my  life  for  them,  if  necessary."  As  the  zeal 
by  which  she  was  replenished  proceeded  from  that  pure  principle  which 
cannot  league  itself  with  the  sinful  desires  of  selfish  man,  and  knows  no 
other  end  but  justice  and  truth,  she  did  not  like  to  be  alone  in  this  holy 
work,  but  wished  all  the  servants  of  God  to  unite  with  her,  hence  she 
fervently  prayed  to  the  L,ord  that  He  might  grant  to  them  also  the 
desire  she  felt  "for  the  salvation  of  souls ;  and,  not  finding  it  in  others 
according  to  her  zeal,  with  feelings  of  great  affliction,  she  thus  expressed 

l86  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

herself:  "  Oh !  why  cannot  I  communicate  it  to  them,  so  that  all,  and  I 
with  them,  might  give  satisfaction  to  Thee,  O  my  God,  for  all  the  offenses 
which  are  offered  to  Thee?  Though  Thy  goodness  alone  can  satisfy 
Thyself,  yet  it  would  be  of  some  alleviation  to  me. "  Knowing  the  cause 
of  so  little  zeal  to  be  generally  ignorance  concerning  the  offense  towards 
God,  she  was  wont  to  exclaim :  "  O  malice  of  creatures,  how  little 
and  by  how  few  art  thou  comprehended  !  Good  God  !  it  is  not  under 
stood  !  Many  say  that  Thou  art  offended  ;  but  they  know  not  and  do 
not  comprehend  what  offense  is. ' '  Well  did  she  understand  the  gravity 
of  offending  God,  and  so  much  so,  that  in  seeing  the  sins  of  the  world, 
as  they  were  often  shown  her  by  His  Divine  Majesty,  she  suffered  exces 
sive  and  extreme  pains.  Thus  during  that  rapture  in  which  Jesus 
espoused  her,  being  terribly  assailed  by  great  tortures,  she  repeated  from 
time  to  time:  " Circumdederunt  me  dolor es  mortis;  dolor  es  infer  ni  cir- 
cumdederunt  me.  Comedit  me  dolor  inferni,pr(Z  multitiidinem  iniquitatum 
nostrarum" — "The  sorrows  of  death  surrounded  me"  (Ps.  xvii,  5). 
4 '  The  sorrows  of  hell  encompassed  me  "  (Ibid.  6).  * '  The  sorrow  of  hell 
has  eaten  me  up,  on  account  of  the  multitude  of  our  iniquities."  And 
on  account  of  the  oppression  she  felt,  she  breathed  heavily,  and,  with 
sighs  mingled  with  sad  tears,  threw  herself  on  the  floor,  shuddering, 
whilst  a  convulsive  tremor  shook  her  limbs  and  the  paleness  of  death 
appeared  on  her  countenance.  "O  L,ord,  I  can  stand  it  no  longer,"  she 
said  with  a  faint  voice,  "  and  if  sinners  do  not  want  to  remove  from  them 
selves  so  many  sins,  remove  from  me,  I  beg  Thee,  the  sight  of  such 
iniquities,  as  I  can  bear  it  no  longer. n  And  she  remained  one  hour  and 
a  half  in  this  most  intense  affliction,  uttering  many  other  words  in 
detestation  of  the  monstrous  ingratitude  of  man.  In  another  ecstasy, 
she  went  so  far  as  to  say  :  "  Oh !  if  there  once  would  be  an  end,  O  my 
God,  to  the  offenses  which  are  offered  to  Thee  !  Oh  !  if  for  once,  the 
cursed  demons  had  no  occasion  to  trouble  me  with  the  sight  of  the  sins 
of  men  ?  But  what  ?  It  would  be  too  much.  I  would  have  a  foretaste 
of  paradise.  Thou  wilt  always,  O  my  God,  that  the  gall  of  temptation 
may  be  ever  mixed  with  the  sweet  honey  of  Thy  grace." 

It  must  also  be  noted  that  this  great  and  excessive  affliction  at  the 
sight  of  the  sins  committed,  which  she  deemed  the  greatest  of  all  the 
many  sorrows  she  endured  during  her  life,  she  had  also  to  bear  very  often, 
since,  during  those  five  years  of  her  probation,  the  devils  used  it  as  their 
chief  instrument  with  which  to  torture  her  soul ;  and  after  that  period  of 
time,  God  permitted  her  often  to  see  such  sights,  so  that  by  the  anguish 
they  caused  her  she  might,  to  some  extent,  satisfy  for  the  sins  of  others, 
and  be  more  and  more  inflamed  and  induced  to  pray  for  divine  mercy,  and 
to  do  special  penance  for  sinners  themselves.  Moreover,  to  grieve  for 
the  offenses  offered  to  His  Divine  Majesty  was  her  daily  exercise,  as  she 
protested  every  morning  that  she  wanted  to  do  it  with  the  greatest  inter 
est.  In  consequence  of  this  zeal  she  regretted  also  seeing  so  little  of  it 
in  her  neighbors,  and  especially  the  superiors,  of  whom  she  was  wont 
to  say  that  they  ought  to  be  thirsty  and  anxious  for  the  love  of  God  and 
the  salvation  of  souls,  even  as  the  deer  pants  after  water  ;  and  not  per 
mit  them  to  perish,  through  their  lack  of  interest,  and  fall  into  the  infer 
nal  pit,  by  not  wishing,  through  human  respect,  to  displease  them  by 

«         ST.   MARY   MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  187 

zealous  correction.  "  Oh  !  how  hateful  before  God,"  she  ecstaticly  ex 
claimed,  ' '  such  dissimulation  is  !  though  He  wishes  that  in  our  hearts 
we  feel  compassion  for  the  faults  of  others,  nevertheless  He  likes  and 
wishes  also  that  those  who  are  bound  by  their  office  be  zealous  and 
severe  in  chastising  the  faults,  that  the  hearts  may  be  purified  from  the 
cockle  and  remain  pure  wheat,  worthy  of  being  stored  in  the  barn  of 
God  in  life  everlasting."  And  she  added  :  "If  severe  justice  were  thus 
practiced  with  sinners,  oh !  how  much  greater  assistance  would  be 
rendered  to  the  Church  of  God  than  is  now  done !" 

Another  time  also,  in  a  rapture,  God  having  manifested  to  her  the 
coolness  of  many  superiors  in  correcting  and  punishing  delinquents,  she 
exclaimed  :  ' '  Ah  !  how  many  do  I  see,  who  under  the  cloak  of  mercy  let 
many  of  their  own  faults  go  unpunished,  together  with  those  of  their  sub 
jects  and  inferiors !  and  for  this  they  expose  themselves  to  the  great  danger 
of  going  to  hell."  Turning  to  God,  she  thus  continued  :  "  What  greater 
cruelty  can  there  be  than  to  have  mercy  for  offenses  which  are  offered  to 
Thee,  without  resorting  to  means  which  would  show  the  grievousness 
of  these  very  offenses,  and  obtain  repentance  and  amendment  in  the 

In  another  ecstasy,  speaking  in  the  person  of  the  Eternal  Father,  she 
strongly  complained  of  the  human  respect  some  priests  have  in  repre 
hending  and  correcting  ;  and  being  desirous  of  showing  that  this  was 
the  principal  cause  of  so  much  malice  being  found  in  men,  she  made 
use  of  the  following  expressions :  "  Even  my  christs  do  not  attend  to 
their  work,  and  do  not  open  their  eyes  to  see  what  is  their  duty  to 
correct  and  amend,  permitting  poor  souls  to  fall  into  faults,  sins,  and 
blindness,  so  that  they  sink  into  the  abyss  of  all  miseries  and  unhappi- 
ness."  In  order  to  inflame  herself  and  move  others  to  this  zeal  for 
fraternal  correction,  she  used  to  reason  as  follows  :  "  If  I  love  a  sister,  I 
am  bound,  though  I  might  be  engaged  in  the  praises  of  God,  to  leave 
them  and  go  to  render  assistance  to  her  in  her  needs  ;  and  if  bound  to 
do  this  in  exterior  things,  much  more  am  I  bound  to  enlighten  her  and 
warn  her  about  her  fault,  which  is  an  interior  need  of  the  soul,  more 
important  by  far  than  the  exterior  one.  And  if  in  order  to  help  the 
body  I  would  stay  up  one  night,  or  two,  or  as  many  as  required,  much 
more,  if  I  felt  love  for  my  neighbor,  I  should  not  regard  it  as  a  labor  to 
pass  one  or  two  nights  in  weeping  for  a  fault,  though  a  very  small  one, 
of  my  sister  ; > '  (which  in  fact  she  did). 

God,  who  in  His  immense  goodness,  delighted  in  seeing  in  the 
heart  of  this  holy  maid  the  zeal  infused  by  Him  so  well  cultivated, 
condescended  many  a  time  to  make  known  to  her  by  supernatural 
means  how  pleasing  it  was  to  Him  to  be  appeased  towards  sinners  by 
the  offering  on  their  behalf  of  the  Precious  Blood  of  His  Divine  Son ; 
and  how,  on  the  contrary,  it  was  displeasing  to  Him  that  so  few  engaged 
in  such  an  office.  We  shall  see  in  its  proper  place,  viz. ,  in  the  Works, 
the  description  and  the  effect  of  this.  In  the  meantime  let  these  two 
most  important  truths,  from  which  originate  so  many  misfortunes  fatal 
to  human  society,  be  a  lesson  to  us.  One  is  the  pertinacity  and  arro 
gance  of  him  who  maliciously  sins,  and,  being  plunged  into  his  wicked 
habits,  places  these  above  all  things  sacred,  convenient,  civil.  The 

l88  THE    UFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

second  is  the  negligence,  the  indolence,  and  the  weakness  of  him 
whom  God  or  men  has  placed  over  others,  and  who  thinks  but  of  feeding 
caprice  and  ambition  in  himself.  The  condition  and  the  consequences 
of  both  were  justly  bewailed  by  our  Saint.  The  wicked,  who,  hav 
ing  freely  given  themselves  away  to  all  the  passions,  plunge  with 
insolent  audacity  into  a  criminal  career,  harm  themselves  more  than 
others;  for,  being  condemned  by  public  opinion,  their  triumph  over 
the  just  man  cannot  be  but  the  consequence  of  brutal  force,  or  of  an 
effervescent  seduction,  which,  if  able  to  contaminate  the  heart,  cannot 
cloud  the  intellect.  But  those  especially,  who,  being  seated  upon  a 
prominent  seat  and  having  the  scales  of  equity  entrusted  to  them, 
neglect  the  exercise  of  the  administration  committed  to  them,  by  not 
giving  to  every  one  justly  what  belongs  to  him, — encourage  the  wicked 
to  usurp  and  cheat,  urge  the  sinner  to  plunge  himself  more  into  sin, 
paralyze  the  just  and  the  innocent  man  into  a  painful  inaction.  In  the 
silence  and  ill-support  of  the  truth  on  the  part  of  those  who  have  the 
official  trust  of  it,  others  see,  at  least,  a  connivance  with  the  darkness, 
the  error,  the  crime  ;  from  this  follow  the  total  ruin  of  social  order  and  the 
irreparable  loss  of  so  many  souls,  caused  by  him  who  did  not  know  how 
or  would  not  guide  others  on  the  road  of  justice  and  truth,  though  he 
was  bound  to  do  it.  Jesus  Christ,  the  true  and  only  ruler  and  guide  of 
the  human  family,  furnished  us  with  the  description  of  such  people  in 
the  person  of  the  mercenary  shepherd.  "  He,"  says  Christ,  "  who 
cares  but  for  his  interest  and  profit,  and  lives  in  the  fold  but  to  butcher 
the  sheep  and  feast  on  their  flesh-meat,  when  he  sees  the  wolf  coming 
towards  the  flock  saves  himself,  abandons  the  sheep,  and  runs  away ; 
then  the  wolf,  being  left  free,  snatches  or  scatters  the  flock." 

The  law  sanctioned  by  nature  and  revelation  is  above  all  men.  He 
who  administers  it  is  subject  to  it,  the  same  as  he  who  is  but  its  servant. 
The  force  of  duty  is  equal  in  both  ;  or,  rather,  the  former  is  under  greater 
obligation,  as  being  bound  to  account  for  himself  and  for  others.  Hence 
he  who  administers  will  only  be  a  good  shepherd  when,  having  entered 
into  the  fold,  according  to  the  evangelical  phrase,  by  the  door — that  is, 
legitimately — will  keep  his  sheep,  viz.,  the  people,  subject  to  him,  so  as 
to  correct  and  punish  with  the  most  efficacious  energy  those  who  trans 
gress,  and  protect  and  reward  those  who  are  deserving  of  it,  and,  as  the 
last  proof,  will  lay  down  his  life  for  his  sheep  when  the  enemy  thrusts 
himself  into  the  flock  to  scatter  it.  •  Justice  free  from  the  least  excep 
tions  is  the  only  foundation  of  good  social  order.  Let  superiors 
be  animated  and  inflamed  with  the  zeal  of  this  virtue;  let  them  practice 
it  without  regard  to  all  persons  and  firmly,  both  in  rewarding  and 
punishing  their  subjects,  and  no  reasonable  man  will  regret  it.  Let 
them  give  it  all  their  thought  and  study,  even  their  life,  if  needs  be.  By 
so  doing  their  supreme  mission  will  be  fulfilled,  and  there  will  be  no 
cause  to  lament  with  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi  so  many  human  miseries. 
But,  unfortunately,  if 

A  sovereign  hence  behooved,  whose  piercing  view 
Might  mark  at  least  the  fortress  ;  l 

1  The  best  commentators  of  Dante  by  fortress  understand  justice,  as  the  virtue 
which  is  most  needed  in  a  prince  for  the  public  weal.  Justice  begets  and  establishes  peace. 

She  foretells  the  elevation  of  Cardinal  Alessandro  de'  Medici  to 
the  Sovereign  Pontificate  (page  121). 

1 88 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  189 

yet  it  is  very  difficult  to  find  a  faithful  performer  of  his  duty.  If  deter 
mined  to  find  out  some  trace  of  constant  equity,  we  will  find  it  only  in 
those  States  (though  somewhat  languishing)  and  in  those  religious  Con 
gregations  in  which  justice  is  impartially  administered  by  the  superiors, 
who  provide  in  every  case,  as  faithful  guardians  and  unchangeable  repre 
sentatives  of  the  laws.  But,  taking  mankind  as  a  whole,  we  are  forced 
to  exclaim  also  with  the  divine  poet : 

.     .     .     Laws  indeed  there  are  : 
But  who  is  he  who  observes  them  ?    None  ;  not  he, 
Who  goes  before,  the  shepherd  of  the  flock, 
Who  chews  the  cud  but  doth  not  cleave  the  hoof. 
Therefore  the  multitude,  who  see  their  guide 
Strike  at  the  very  good  they  covet  most, 
Feed  there  and  look  no  further.     Thus  the  cause 
Is  not  corrupted  nature  in  yourselves, 
But  ill-conducting,  that  hath  turned  the  world 
To  evil.— Dante's  (Carey  Trans.)  Purgat.,  XVI. 





Y  reason  of  the  sublime  variety  preordained  by  the  Divine 
Wisdom  in  the  heavenly  Jerusalem,  not  all  the  Saints  have 
received  the  palm  of  martyrdom  ;  but  they  all  ardently 
wished  for  it  and  tried  to  obtain  it  in  themselves  by  the 
means  which  they  had  at  hand.  Martyrdom  is,  truly,  that 
act  of  religious  heroism  which  shows  the  greatest  perfection 
of  a  man  in  his  religious  faith.  But  this  is  none  the  less 
proved  by  continuous  and  loyal  acts  tending  to  this  same 
end.  Thus  in  the  Christian  Religion  the  constant  and  unchangeable  life 
of  mortification  and  penance  which  holy  and  devout  souls  are  wont  to 
lead,  is  equivalent  to  a  true  martyrdom  and  eminently  evinces  the  per 
fection  of  the  follower  of  Christ. 

Of  the  torments  with  which  Magdalen  treated  her  body,  thus  sub 
duing  its  senses,  we  have  already  said  not  a  little ;  so  that  it  remains 
only  just  to  touch  here  upon  it,  making  but  a  short  addition  to  the  facts 
above  related.  We  repeat  then,  first,  that  her  throwing  herself  naked 
among  thorns  was  a  kind  of  martyrdom,  together  with  the  other  severe 
penances  which  she  practiced  in  order  to  conquer  the  impure  temptations 
by  which  she  was  molested.  Though  from  the  twenty-first  year  of  her 
life,  by  a  singular  privilege  of  our  Blessed  L,ady,  she  was  never  subject  to 
feelings  or  imaginations  of  impurity ;  and  though  the  pure  candor  of  her 
innocence  was  never  sullied  by  a  voluntary  sin,  yet,  as  long  as  she  lived, 
she  continued  with  a  constant,  nay,  a  progressive  austerity  in  the  ingen 
ious  manner  of  chastising  her  body.  All  this  may  also  be  said  to  have 
been  directed  to  expiate  the  sins  of  others,  as  she  herself  was  not  guilty 
of  anything  which  might  deserve  such  severe  treatment.  Which  is 
also  well  confirmed  by  her  very  ardent  zeal  for  the  salvation  of  souls. 

Recalling  then  to  memory  her  penances  of  the  year  1587,  during 
which  she  was  covered  by  the  Blessed  Virgin  with  the  white  veil  which 
delivered  her  from  the  impure  stimulus  of  the  flesh,  she  having,  from 
the  year  1585,  subsisted  simply  on  bread  and  water,  except  on  Sundays, 
when  she  used  Lenten  food  ; — she  continued  the  same  method  till  the 
year  1590.  This  year,  her  probation  being  over,  by  divine  will  she 
mitigated  such  austerity  of  fasting,  taking  the  community  meals  on 


Sundays,  and  drinking  a  little  wine  on  Thursdays ;  but  on  the  remaining 
days  of  the  week  she  made  use  of  but  bread  and  water.  Thus  con 
tinuing  until  1592,  her  superiors  noticed  that  her  health  had  deteriorated 
very  much ;  hence,  for  fear  of  losing  her,  they  suggested  to  her  that  she 
should  pray  to  God  to  permit  her  to  partake  of  all  the  community  meals. 
Which  being  done  by  her,  the  Divine  Goodness  condescended  to  satisfy 
the  wishes  of  those  who  had  the  health  of  our  Saint  so  much  at  heart, 
and  Mary  Magdalen,  submitting  to  the  divine  inspiration,  adapted  her 
self  completely  to  the  food  of  the  monastery;  so  that,  having  been 
remarkable  till  then  for  the  peculiarity  of  her  life,  she  became  exemplary 
in  conforming  herself  to  the  common  meals  with  the  rest.  Always  very 
sparing  and  modest  in  taking  what  was  offered  to  her,  she  was  wont  to 
refuse  the  most  delicate  viands,  taking  instead  the  most  coarse  and  gross 
ones,  making  believe,  with  ingenious  virtue,  that  she  relished  more  the 
latter  than  the  former.  This  she  practiced  till  death. 

From  the  same  year,  1587,  till  1590  she  went  barefooted.  On  account 
of  the  delicacy  of  her  flesh  and  of  her  working  in  the  kitchen  (in  doing 
this  work  in  winter  time  she  exposed  herself  in  the  orchard  to  snow  and 
ice)  she  suffered  so  intensely  that  her  feet  were  wounded  and  sore 
and  bled  copiously.  Her  flesh  became  livid,  and  at  times  she  trembled 
so  that  she  was  unable  to  articulate  a  word ;  but,  never  satiated  with 
suffering,  one  day  she  remained  thus  barefooted  for  many  hours  on  the 
snow  praying.  From  the  year  1590  till  her  last  illness,  by  obedience 
she  put  on  her  shoes  and  slippers,  but  never  the  stockings ;  and  for 
three  years  previous  to  1590  and  afterwards  until  said  sickness,  she 
never  wore  more  than  one  tunic  and  it  became  worn  out  and  thin ;  so 
that  every  winter  she  caught  very  severe  colds. 

From  the  year  1581  till  her  last  sickness  she  slept  in  her  habit  upon 
a  straw-bed,  and  very  often  on  the  bare  floor.  Her  rest  was  very  short ; 
and  when  she  protracted  it  to  five  hours,  she  deemed  it  excessive.  Not 
seldom  she  passed  the  night  without  taking  any  rest  at  all,  but  spent  it 
in  prayers  or  exercises  of  pious  charity  towards  her  sisters  and  for  the 
benefit  of  the  monastery.  And  if  during  these  exercises  she  felt  herself 
sometimes  constrained  to  take  some  rest,  she  would  rest  for  not  more 
than  half  an  hour,  leaning  her  head  against  something. 

Besides  the  woolen  tunic  which,  according  to  the  rule  of  the  mon 
astery,  she  wore  during  all  her  lifetime,  she  sometimes  also  wore  on  her 
bare  skin  an  iron  belt,  sometimes  the  hair- cloth,  and  sometimes  the 
belt  of  nails  she  herself  had  made.  She  would  very  often  discipline 
herself  with  various  instruments,  but  mostly  with  an  iron  chain  weigh 
ing  about  three  pounds  ;  and  she  would  do  that  for  whole  hours ;  so 
that  being  often  heard  by  some  sister,  who  feared  lest  she  should  shatter 
herself  by  this  hard  and  prolonged  rigor,  she  would  call  in  the  supe 
rioress  or  the  mistress  of  novices,  that  they  might  come  and  stop  her. 
Of  this  the  mother  Sister  Evangelista  del  Giocondo  left  a  special  testi 
mony,  declaring  that  she  found  her  many  a  time  in  the  act  of  most 
cruelly  scourging  herself,  her  flesh  livid  and  bleeding,  and  even  the 
floor  and  the  walls  of  the  room  besmeared  with  blood.  To  these  cruel 
torments  she  added  others  which  her  indefatigable  and  insatiable  zeal 
suggested  and  prompted  her  to  invent.  It  was  principally  remarked 

192  THE   UFE   AND  WORKS  OF 

that  on  lighting  a  candle,  she  used  to  let  some  of  the  melted  wax 
drop  on  her  hands  and  feet,  which  would  be  skinned  thereby,  and  she 
would  sometimes  be  made  lame  for  some  days.  She  would  also  press 
her  flesh  with  iron  pincers  until  the  blood  would  flow.  In  the  fervor  of 
prayer,  like  another  St.  Jerome,  she  was  wont  to  strike  her  breast  with 
a  stone.  She  would  gather  up  a  quantity  of  nettle  in  the  orchard,  and, 
bringing  it  into  her  cell,  she  would  rub  it  over  her  body.  During  the 
time  that  she  went  around  with  shoes  or  slippers,  that  the  feet  might 
not  be  without  their  martyrdom,  she  used  to  break  some  dry  cypress 
berries,  and,  placing  them  in  her  shoes,  she  would  walk  about  as  usual, 
with  great  pain.  In  a  word,  she  regarded  her  body  as  a  vile  beast  of 
burden,  as  the  ground  which  we  tramp  upon.  She  loaded  it  with  all 
sorts  of  toils,  and  reduced  it  almost  to  the  exhaustion  of  its  last  degree 
of  strength. 

Now,  if  so  delicate  and  young  a  maid,  and  so  innocent  withal,  was 
wont  to  treat  herself  so  cruelly,  it  must  be  repeated  that  she  did  it  not 
only  to  preserve,  increase,  and  purify  her  love  for  her  God,  but  also  to  be 
of  benefit  to  her  neighbors,  by  trying  to  soothe  the  wrath  of  God,  satisfy 
His  Divine  Justice,  obtain  the  conversion  of  sinners,  the  deliverance  of 
the  souls  in  purgatory,  and  the  like  graces.  The  love  of  God  was  cer 
tainly  the  greatest  mover  and  the  primary  object  of  all  her  actions  ;  but 
as  it  is  impossible  to  love  God  without  loving  our  neighbor  also,  because 
God's  love  and  our  neighbor's  naturally  join  and  become  one,  therefore 
this  beautiful  soul,  as  she  had  the  love  of  God  in  a  supreme  degree,  so 
she  had  also  and  practiced  that  of  her  neighbor.  Being  prevented  from 
going  around  the  world  to  convert  souls  to  God,  and  unable  to  satisfy  in 
any  other  way  the  ardent  desire  she  felt  of  doing  so,  except  by  means  of 
private  penances  ;  besides  the  severe  exercise  of  these,  as  we  have  related 
so  far,  she  would  try  to  put  in  practice  all  her  zeal  for  the  salvation  and 
perfection  of  all  her  companions  in  the  monastery.  To  all,  as  needs  be, 
she  tried  to  become  useful, — now  with  prayer,  now  with  counsel,  now 
with  advice  and  lessons,  now  with  reproaches,  but  always  and  especially 
with  her  example.  She  used  to  notice  the  spiritual  needs  of  each  sister 
so  accurately  that  the  most  zealous  and  learned  spiritual  director  could 
not  have  known  more  in  that  matter ;  and  so  efficaciously  did  she  try 
to  provide  for  the  needs  she  had  noticed,  that  there  was  not  an  ignorant 
sister,  who,  desiring  to  receive  her  help,  would  not  be  enlightened ;  none 
afflicted,  who  would  not  be  consoled;  none  discouraged,  who  by  her  help 
would  not  be  strengthened ;  none  imperfect,  that  she  would  not  correct 
and  oblige  to  amend ;  and  none  desirous  of  doing  good,  that  she  would  not 
encourage.  So  that  of  all  those  with  whom  she  lived  in  religion,  there 
was  not  one  who  did  not  receive  from  her  some  particular  assistance, 
besides  the  general  help  she  gave  to  the  monastery  and  the  community. 
She  spared  no  labor  or  inconvenience,  and  she  even  forgot  her  food,  her 
rest  and  all  other  bodily  necessities,  to  assist  in  some  way  the  spiritual 
needs  of  some  of  her  companions.  To  be  of  some  benefit  to  souls,  she 
thought  it  proper  to  omit  even  her  prayers  and  forego  every  spiritual 
delight;  and  she  held  such  charitable  work. in  greater  esteem  than  all 
the  ecstasy  of  spirit  which  she  might  have  had.  She  gave  this  reason 
for  it :  "  In  the  ecstasy  God  helps  me  ;  but  in  helping  my  neighbor  I 


help  God."  To  have  a  better  chance  to  instruct  and  enlighten,  she  pre 
ferred  to  converse  with  simple  persons,  as  the  minor  novices  and  the  lay- 
sisters.  And  whenever  her  parents  would  send  either  male  or  female 
servants,  or  peasant  maids  to  visit  her,  or  when  for  any  other  business 
of  the  monastery  she  was  offered  an  opportunity  to  speak  to  this  class 
of  persons,  or  to  children,  she  would  always  give  them  some  salutary 
souvenir  and  lesson. 

The  mothers  of  the  monastery,  having  from  the  beginning  discov 
ered  the  useful  and  extraordinary  disposition  with  which  the  spirit  of 
Magdalen  De-Pazzi  was  endowed,  resolved  to  give  her  the  opportunity 
of  employing  it,  and  the  community  the  advantage  which  undoubtedly 
would  be  derived  therefrom.  Hence,  no  sooner  was  the  time  ended, 
during  which,  after  the  novitiate,  one  must  remain  under  another  mis 
tress,  in  the  juniorate,  she  was  made  pedagogue,  that  is,  companion  of 
the  mistress  of  novices,  at  the  youthful  age  of  twenty-three  years. 
Prompt  to  obey,  she  accepted  this  office ;  but  in  her  humility  she  feared 
much,  deeming  herself  unable  to  keep  watch  over  the  new  little  plants 
of  the  Religion,  especially  because  she  could  not  devote  to  it  all  the 
diligence  she  wished,  in  consequence  of  her  still  suffering  the  five-years' 
trial,  during  which  she  was  so  distracted  and  troubled.  Notwithstanding 
this  she  completely  fulfilled  the  task  entrusted  to  her,  and  with  great 
profit  to  the  novices  ;  so  that  on  account  of  her  success  during  the  three 
years  she  exercised  this  office,  when  she  reached  the  age  of  thirty-three 
she  was  elected  mistress  of  those  who  come  out  of  the  novitiate,  and 
overseer  of  those  who  entered  the  monastery  intending  to  become  nuns. 

Having  passed,  with  great  satisfaction  to  all,  three  years  in  these 
two  offices,  she  was  immediately  chosen  mistress  of  novices,  which  office 
requires  the  greatest  delicacy  of  conscience  and  the  most  exact  perspi 
cuity  of  spirit,  and  imposes  the  gravest  and  most  momentous  responsi 
bility  before  God  and  the  Religion.  The  love  and  interest  that  Magda 
len  cherished  for  these  souls  committed  to  her,  the  zeal  for  their  salvation 
and  perfection,  the  wonderful  ways  by  which  she  instructed  and  exercised 
them  in  the  way  of  God,  are  not  easy  to  tell,  as  it  is  very  difficult  to 
make  those  understand  them  who  have  not  been  eye-witnesses.  To  the 
very  nuns  who,  having  lived  with  her,  gave  testimony  of  what  they  saw, 
after  relating  many  things  it  seemed  as  if  they  had  said  nothing,  in  com 
parison  to  what  they  had  seen.  They  strongly  asserted  that  the  love 
which  Magdalen  showed,  and  in  fact  felt,  for  the  persons  entrusted  to 
her  care,  surpassed  that  of  any  mother.  For,  it  being  free  from  those 
vicious  excesses  to  which  nature  is  wont  to  carry  mothers  in  moments 
of  carnal  or  maternal  fervor,  the  charitable  love  of  Magdalen  was  always 
even  and  smooth  in  its  intensity,  always  pure  and  upright  in  its  aim. 
She  herself  would  protest  to  the  young  ladies  in  her  keeping,  that  she 
loved  them  with  more  than  maternal  tenderness.  Hence,  she  used  to 
watch  over  each  of  them  with  most  efficient  solicitude  ;  and  not  only  had 
she  at  heart  their  spiritual  needs,  but  their  corporal  ones  as  well,  as 
if  she  were  the  most  tender  of  mothers.  On  discovering  some  of  their 
needs,  either  she  immediately  provided  for  them  herself,  or  saw  that  the 
superioress  d'd  so.  If  anyone  was  too  timid  to  ask  anything  or  to  manifest 
her  troubles  or  needs,  the  Saint  gave  her  courage  and  attended  to  her  with 

194  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

a  more  watchful  eye,  and  made  her  companions  watch  her  also,  that  noth 
ing  would  be  wanting  for  her  comfort.  She  mended  and  cleaned  their 
habit^  ^y.  was  always  ready  to  lend  any  other  charitable  service  needed 
at  th  e.  She  lightened  their  labors,  and  saw  particularly  to  it  that 
they  e  equally  glad  and  cheerful  both  in  prosperous  and  in  contrary 
things.  If  one  of  them  fell  sick,  it  is  hard  to  tell  with  how  much  charity 
and  kindness  she  stood  around  her  to  wait  on  her,  to  nurse  her,  and 
render  her  all  possible  assistance.  She  saw  no  affliction  of  spirit  or  body 
in  those  daughters  that  she  did  not  feel  in  herself  as  her  own;  and  she 
wished  to  free  them  altogether  from  it,  in  order  to  take  on  herself  all 
the  pains  of  others.  "Ah  !  if  I  could  but  free  thee  from  these  pains," 
said  she,  with  an  accent  of  extreme  desire,  "  how  willingly  would  I  do 
it!"  If  sometimes,  even  in  the  middle  of  the  night,  whilst  resting  on 
her  straw-bed,  weakened  by  her  labors,  she  heard  any  of  them  moaning 
or  complaining,  she  arose  at  once  and  ran  to  the  side  of  the  patient,  in 
order  to  afford  her  opportune  assistance;  and  both  to  her  and  to  all 
she  was  wont  to  say,  in  a  beseeching  way,  that  they  should  not  at 
all  spare  her,  and  in  whatever  need  it  might  be,  they  should  call  her 
freely,  waking  her  up  even  at  midnight.  She  would  have  very  promptly 
gone  to  all;  as  she  always  did  with  a  truly  jovial  disposition,  free,  at  the 
same  time,  from  all  partiality.  If,  finding  herself  waiting  in  the  night 
on  some  sick  nun,  she  was  asked  by  her  to  go  and  take  rest,  she  would 
reply:  il  Sister,  if  thou  needest  me,  I  will  stand  here  oh  my  feet  till 
to-morrow  morning,  and,  I  trust  in  God,  it  will  not  hurt  me  in  the 

Once,  as  a  reason  for  the  tenderest  love  she  bore  to  the  sisters  and 
particularly  her  disciples  (whom  she  loved  more  than  their  natural 
mothers),  she  alluded  to  the  words  uttered  by  St.  Paul  in  one*  of 
his  Epistles:  "Your  mothers  bring  you  forth  into  this  world  but 
once,  but  I  bring  you  forth  to  God  thousands  upon  thousands 
of  times  with  pain ;  as  I  feel  like  yourselves  whatever  sorrows 
and  afflictions  I  know  you  to  feel."  At  other  times  she  declared  that 
she  felt  such  a  particular  love  because  these  souls  were  by  Religion 
entrusted  to  her  care,  and  she  knew  that  in  working  for  them  she  was 
sure  to  do  the  will  of  God.  Moreover,  it  seemed  right  to  her  that 
they  should  be  treated  with  this,  and,  if  it  were  possible,  with  a  greater 
love,  for  the  good  of  their  own  souls  and  of  the  Religion,  in  order  that 
they  might  become  attached  to  the  Order ;  hence,  she  was  wont  to  say 
to  the  sisters :  "These  daughters  come  from  the  world,  leaving  father 
and  mother  and  all  the  advantages  of  the  world  ;  hence,  it  is  necessary 
that  they  should  find  in  the  Religion  someone  who  may  induce  them  to 
willingly  embrace  the  labors  of  the  same."  And  'to  the  novices: 
Daughters,  you  have  left  one  mother  and  have  found  many;  you  have 
left  a  few  sisters  and  have  found  here  a  great  number  of  them,  who  will 
love  you  better  than  your  parents,  as  they  will  love  you  in  charity  and 
in  God,  which  surpasses,  by  far,  natural  and  carnal  love."  Thus  she 
endeavored  with  all  possible  care  to  divest  their  spirit  of  earthly  affec 
tions,  raising  it  to  the  celestial  ones  which  are  professed  and  followed  in 
the  Religion  by  those  who,  being  called  in  by  God,  lead  a  life  faithful  to 
the  supreme  light. 


With  a  view  at  the  same  time  to  the  advantage  of  the  monastery, 
and  thinking,  therefore,  of  the  good  or  evil  consequences  which  may 
result  to  the  same  from  the  good  or  evil  qualities  of  the  young,  when 
ever  a  girl  entered  therein,  the  Saint  minutely  observed  her  steps,  her 
movements,  and  all  her  external  deportment,  in  order  to  find  out  whether 
her  tendencies  and  interior  qualifications  fitted  her  for  the  Religion;  and, 
to  this  end,  she  particularly  studied  the  docility  of  her  intellect  and  the 
flexibility  of  her  will ;  and,  in  these,  she  shrewdly  exercised  the  young 
postulant  on  every  occasion.  Neither  did  she,  for  desire  of  increasing 
their  number,  hide  from  them  the  rigors  of  the  Rules ;  but  there  was 
no  regulation  of  the  monastery,  nor  rough  and  laborious  work  of  the 
community,  even  of  but  probable  occurrence,  that  she  did  not  show  to 
them  with  an  unexceptionable  sincerity,  which  leads  us  to  the  follow 
ing  remarks:  Some  think  it  to  be  the  custom  of  the  Religious,  that 
rather  than  to  manifest  the  hardships  of  their  state, — in  order  to  raise 
a  desire  for  it  in  those  who  ask  to  be  received,  they  entice  them 
with  the  captivating  ease  of  a  life  not  only  free  from  human  troubles, 
but  also  firm  in  its  tranquil  existence,  besides  possessing  the  most 
valid  and  rich  hopes  for  the  life  to  come.  The  young  person  thus 
may  give  herself  merrily  up  to  a  bond  now  considered  of  extreme  light 
ness,  and  which,  known  afterwards  and  felt  to  be  of  enormous  binding 
force  and  weight,  will  make  the  young  person  succumb  as  a  victim  of 
despair  in  the  religious  house,  or  return  to  the  world  a  useless,  rest 
less,  and  sad  being.  If  of  this  last  alternative  society  has  plenty 
of  cause  to  complain,  finding  itself  troubled  by  elements  so  hetero 
geneous,  Religious  must  not  be  blamed  for  it  as  much  as  if  they  had 
failed  to  make  known  to  their  postulants  the  state  which  they  were  about 
to  embrace.  All  of  them  hold  it  as  a  constant  and  essential  custom  to 
give  to  those  who  wish  to  receive  their  habit,  the  rules  and  constitu 
tions  of  the  Order,  that  they  may  read  and  know  them  all,  and  to  explain 
the  spirit  and  the  aim  of  it,  the  customs,  and  everything  else  that  may 
have  been  afterwards  introduced  into  them.  Ill  corresponding  to  the 
vocation  is  the  ordinary  origin  of  the  sad  results  in  those  who  vowed 
themselves  to  God  by  a  solemn  promise.  Hence,  whilst  we  recommend 
to  the  rulers  of  religious  communities  the  most  severe  circumspection  in 
order  to  satisfy  themselves  of  such  vocations,  we  tell  them  to  employ  all 
their  zeal  in  preventing  anyone  from  falling  away  from  the  heavenly 
call.  A  longer  trial  and  a  wiser  age  is,  of  course,  the  wish  of  most 
people  to  test  the  religious  vocation.  This  is  practiced  in  some  States 
of  secular  dominion,  and  in  a  manner  yet  more  praiseworthy  and  useful 
in  the  Venerable  Society  of  Jesus,  which,  being  able  to  glory  as  one 
of  the  foremost  Orders  because  of  the  number  of  its  members,  has  also  the 
satisfaction,  on  the  other  hand,  of  having  to  deplore  far  less  than  any 
other  the  falling  away  of  those  who  have  solemnly  joined  it.  The  sagacity 
with  which  the  Jesuits  study  and  test  at  length  their  alumni  before  they 
admit  them  to  the  vows,  and  their  promptness  in  getting  rid  of  them  if 
a  doubt  supervenes  about  their  vocation,  is  the  reason  why  one  of  them 
very  seldom  lays  down  the  habit  after  having  made  solemn  vows. 

Magdalen,  who  in  all  that  was  possible  to  her,  modeled  herself  on 
the  spirit  and  practices  of  St.  Ignatius  and  his  sons,  during  the  time 

196  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

fixed  by  her  Order  for  the  probation  of  the  young  postulants,  exhausted 
all  industries,  so  that  if  not  in  the  duration,  at  least  in  the  chief  maxim, 
she  might  do  as  is  done  by  the  Jesuits.  Not  only  did  she  open  her  eyes 
well  on  the  novices,  but  wished  them  also  to  open  their  own  and  wholly 
on  the  new  state  they  were  to  embrace  ;  and  on  their  giving  sign 
of  the  least  dissatisfaction,  she  was  wont  to  say  frankly  to  them  :  u  If 
you  do  not  like  this  mode  of  life,  you  may  choose  another  place,  as  here 
we  wish  to  go  on  in  the  manner  which  you  see."  On  a  doubt  arising 
about  someone's  vocation,  she  was  rather  inclined  to  send  her  back  to  the 
world,  than  to  make  her  embrace  a  state  in  the  choice  of  which  (these 
were  her  words)  the  highest  degree  of  liberty  and  free  will  is  required. 
With  greater  reason,  if  she  judged  anyone  positively  unfit  for  the  mon 
astery,  without  regard  for  human  respect  she  would  acquaint  the  supe 
riors  so  that  there  might  be  no  occasion  of  scandal  to  the  rest.  On 
account  of  the  zeal  always  alive  and  burning  in  her  heart,  whenever  a 
well-disposed  girl  was  to  receive  the  habit  of  the  Religion,  or  a  novice 
to  make  her  solemn  profession,  for  many  days  previous  she  used  to  offer 
for  this  purpose  many  prayers,  penances,  and  Communions,  and  she 
asked  the  rest  to  do  the  same.  The  night  preceding  the  sacred  cere 
mony  she  took  no  rest,  but  passed  it  all  in  prayer  that  the  new  Bride  of 
Jesus  might  obtain  her  light  from  the  Divine  Spirit  to  know  the  dig 
nity  of  the  state  for  which  she  had  been  chosen  and  for  grace  to  effectu 
ally  correspond  to  such  a  vocation.  With  all  diligence  she  endeavored 
to  make  those  who  had  received  the  habit  or  made  their  profession 
attached  to  the  Religion  and  the  customs  of  the  monastery,  studying  to 
impress  in  their  souls  the  benefit  received  from  God,  and  exhorting  them 
to  be  thankful  therefor  not  only  to  His  Divine  Majesty,  but  to  the  nuns 
also.  "  Daughters,"  she  was  wont  to  say  to  the  former,  "be  thankful 
principally  to  God,  and  then  to  all  these  mothers  and  sisters  who  have 
received  you  ;  as,  through  them,  you  have  received  the  most  precious 
gift  that,  after  baptism,  God  can  bestow  on  His  chosen  ones  in  this  life. 
The  entering  of  the  Religion  means  that  you  are  bound  by  gratitude  to 
love  and  serve  all,  deeming  yourselves  unworthy  of  their  company  ;" 
and  thus  she  accustomed  them  to  be  also  respectful  and  submissive  to 
the  mothers,  which  is  so  necessary  in  the  monasteries. 

God,  therefore,  who  had  chosen  Magdalen  De-Pazzi  not  only  to  be 
holy  in  the  fulfillment  of  her  duties,  but  also  to  make  others  holy,  endowed 
her  with  so  rare  a  prudence  in  bringing  souls  to  perfection,  that  it  was  a 
truly  wonderful  thing  to  behold.  Her  fine  discernment  made  her  adapt 
herself  so  well  to  what  was  required  by  the  temper  of  the  characters  and 
inclinations  of  the  minds  under  her,  that  she  did  not  seem  to  be  a  mistress 
of  all  the  novices,  but  she  appeared  to  assume  many  forms  of  mistress,  in 
proportion  to  the  number  of  subjects  entrusted  to  her  care.  She  used  to 
make,  so  to  say,  a  minute  anatomy  of  the  mind,  the  passions,  and  the 
heart  of  every  one,  so  that  she  attained  such  a  perfect  knowledge  of  their 
interior  dispositions  as  each  of  them  might  know  of  her  own.  Hence 
she  adopted  the  most  opportune  and  convenient  manner  of  dealing  with 
them — serious  or  affable,  rigid  or  soft,  reserved  or  open — as  the  occasion 
might  require ;  always  preserving,  though,  equal  charity  for  all  and  keep 
ing  her  own  soul  in  the  fullest  calm  of  affections.  Of  the  very  many  things 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  197 

which  could  be  repeated  about  this  prerogative,  we  will  relate  here  but 
a  few,  from  which,  though,  it  will  be  easy  to  infer  of  what  ability  our 
Saint  was  possessed  to  govern  souls.  One  of  the  twenty  rules  God  gave 
her  was  that  she  should  have  as  many  eyes  as  she  had  souls  to  govern, 
which  she  effected  so  that  the  more  adult  and  perfect  nuns,  besides  the 
novices,  greatly  wondered  at  it.  By  a  supernatural  light  she  was  wont 
to  see  the  souls  of  all,  so  that  she  could  make  no  mistake  in  the  conduct 
she  observed  towards  each  of  them.  Hence  she  imposed  more  on  those 
who  were  better  able,  and  compassionated  more  those  who  compre 
hended  less  ;  she  would  show  more  rigor  to  those  who  had  greater  desire 
and  anxiety  to  learn;  and,  on  the  contrary,  she  encouraged  those  who 
were  remiss  of  spirit  and  timid  to  walk  in  the  way  of  the  L,ord,  showing 
them  esteem  and  affection.  Thus  she  would  severely  reprehend  and 
punish  one  for  a  light  fault,  and  another,  for  the  same  or  a  graver  one, 
she  corrected  mildly  and  was  patient  with  her;  with  some  she  dis 
simulated,  as  though  she  took  no  notice  of  anything  ;  with  others  she 
conferred  charitably;  and  with  others  still,  she  avoided  even  talking, 
showing  herself  far  different  from  what  she  was  in  reality.  But  such 
dissimilar  dealings  were  directed  by  so  great  a  divine  light  that  none 
ever  suspected  her  of  partiality  or  entertained  a  jealous  fear  lest  others 
were  better  loved.  All  declared  that  she  used  the  mode  of  direction 
which  was  most  profitable  with  each ;  at  the  same  time  that  they  saw  her 
severe  and  grave  with  one,  benign  and  piteous  with  another,  looking 
at  one  with  a  rigid  eye,  and  thus  bringing  a  burning  shame  to  her  face 
and  making  her  lower  her  head,  and  turning  to  another  a  favorable 
countenance,  thus  reassuring  her  and  banishing  all  sadness  from  her 
heart.  She  restrained  the  excessive  joy  of  some,  so  that  it  would  not 
turn  into  dissipation ;  and  she  alleviated  the  sadness  of  others,  so 
that  it  would  not  fall  into  barren  desolation.  She  moderated  the  too 
fervent  ones,  and  encouraged  the  tepid  ones.  Thus  she  was  to  all  a  wise 
and  prudent  directress,  and  always  in  the  act  either  of  helping  the  spirit 
or  doing  acts  of  charity  towards  the  body,  now  for  one,  now  for  another, 
now  for  all  together.  From  everything  she  took  occasion  to  promote 
sanctity — reprehending,  humiliating  kindly,  mortifying,  teaching.  The 
penances,  as  a  rule,  she  imposed  moderately  on  those  tender  plants 
of  the  great  Householder;  and  if  any,  stimulated  by  more  fervent  piety, 
spontaneously  asked  for  extraordinary  ones,  she  did  not  always  grant  the 
permission,  thinking  that  discretion  was  greatly  required  in  the  exterior 
penances,  especially  for  the  beginners  in  the  way  of  the  L,ord.  She  did 
not  reprehend  anybody  if  her  soul  was  not  altogether  in  peace ;  and  if  any 
one  in  resentment  answered  her  with  little  respect,  she  limited  herself  to 
gazing  at  her  with  a  look  of  compassionating  interest;  and  afterwards, 
at  the  moment  she  considered  the  most  opportune,  she  proceeded  to 
administer  the  correction — so  highly  did  she  value  rectitude  in  the 
direction  of  souls,  though  the  tumultuous  motions  of  irascibility  never 
troubled  her  mind  or  her  heart.  She  also  awaited  till  the  subjects  were 
also  tranquil  before  correcting  them.  She  tolerated  for  several  months 
one  who,  moved  by  the  enemy  of  all  good,  was  burning  with  passion 
against  her;  and,  when  she  saw  her  better  disposed,  she  made  her  profit 
ably  conscious  of  her  error.  She  used  to  give  them  frequent  advice  as  to 

198  THK    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

How  to  dispose  themselves  to  receive  mortification  with  a  quiet  and  sub 
missive  disposition,  as  she  knew  this  to  be  of  the  greatest  importance  for 
their  spiritual  advancement.  She  inculcated  in  them  very  frequently 
that  the  fruit  of  prayer  was  to  be  in  a  special  manner  the  acquiring  of 
the  virtue  to  suffer  all  that  displeases  self-love.  "When  you,"  said  she 
to  them,  "stop  praying,  you  must  be  ready  to  receive  any  reprehension 
and  mortification,  let  it  be  just  or  not;  and  you  must  be  so  firm  and  fixed 
in  God  that  nothing  can  disturb  the  quiet  of  your  soul."  Hence  she  was 
wont  to  impose  the  penances  and  other  humiliations  as  soon  as  prayer  or 
other  practices  of  piety  were  ended ;  both  because  at  that  time  the  soul 
being  recollected  in  God  is  better  disposed  to  virtue,  and  because,  if  any 
one  was  deemed  to  have  prayed  well,  she  should  humble  herself  in  sight 
of  her  faults,  and  uproot  from  her  heart  self-complaisance,  which  is 
poisonous  to  the  soul  when  without  the  thorns  of  self-abasement.  More 
over,  on  account  of  the  charity  with  which  Magdalen  adorned  the  rigors 
of  the  penances  or  reprehensions  inflicted  on  her  subjects,  they  were 
not  saddened,  but  were  rather  drawn  to  love  and  revere  her  the  more, 
and  they  used  to  say:  "She  is  truly  a  mother  to  us."  Such  great 
light  and  flames  did  they  get  from  her  teachings,  that  some  of  them, 
as  they  declared,  would  have  walked  on  thorns  to  hear  her,  as  it 
seemed  to  them  that  they  heard  and  saw  a  spirit  of  paradise.  Some 
thing  divine  was  shining  in  her  eyes,  which  consoled  them  even 
when  they  were  reprimanded.  Charity  and  zeal  joined  to  majesty  in 
correcting  filled  the  hearts  with  a  holy  fear  not  disjoined  from  consola 
tion.  She  herself  seemed  almost  trembling,  on  account  of  her  great 
humility,  in  the  act  of  correcting ;  and  she  made  others  tremble  by  the 
sacred  terror  of  sanctity  transpiring  from  her  countenance.  This  won 
derful  coupling  of  humility  and  majesty  succeeded  admirably  in  break 
ing  the  hardness  of  insubordinate  spirits,  not  rare  among  young  persons. 
She  herself  performed  the  penances  for  her  who  would  not  submit 
to  them;  and  this  not  sufficing,  in  her  presence  she  knelt  before 
another  novice,  begging  her  to  suggest  what  could  be  done  to  help  that 
soul;  and  in  so  doing  she  shed  such  copious  and  bitter  tears  as  to 
melt  even  a  heart  of  stone ;  yet  her  face  appeared  at  the  same  time 
as  majestically  illumined  as  the  sky  when  Iris  appears  between  the 
light  and  the  clouds.  Towards  a  young  maid  contumacious  in  her  dis 
obedience,  arming  herself  with  stronger  zeal,  she  thought  of  using  the 
discipline,  striking  her  in  a  more  humiliating  than  severe  manner;  and 
thus  she  obtained  her  loyal  and  sincere  amendment.  There  was  not 
anybody,  in  a  word,  who  could  resist  her  various  and  opportune  man 
ners  of  leading  souls  to  perfection.  She  imposed  no  penance  but  that 
which  she  herself  first  practiced;  neither  did  she  ever  order  anything 
without  having  first  consulted  Jesus  about  it  in  prayer.  Before  reprov 
ing  any  faults  in  others,  she  looked  at  herself  very  diligently,  to  see 
if  perchance  she  was  likewise  guilty  of  them ;  and  whilst  correcting,  she 
was  making  within  herself  acts  of  profound  humility,  knowing  herself 
to  be  (so  she  said)  more  imperfect  and  less  virtuous  than  the  one  she 
corrected.  Often,  after  having  corrected  someone,  she  went  to  the 
superioress  to  humble  and  accuse  herself  of  having  done  so,  judging 
herself  more  imperfect.  She  always  had  in  her  heart  and  mind  the 

ST.   MARY    MAGDALEN    DE— PAZZI.  1 99 

Rules  that  God  had  given  her  to  guide  herself  and  her  neighbors  to 

Now  it  behooves  us  to  describe  with  how  much  solicitude  she 
instilled  in  the  souls  of  those  who  were  entrusted  to  her  care  the  virtues 
which  render  the  Religious  perfect  and  the  Religious  Orders  spiritually 
happy.  Charity,  above  all,  she  wished  to  take  deep  root  in  those  tender 
plants  of  hers ;  that  charity  for  which  the  holy  founders  instituted  the 
so  well-deserving  Congregations  whose  members,  satisfied  with  a  short 
sleep,  a  frugal  repast,  modest  clothing,  narrow  cells,  were  to  consecrate 
their  thoughts,  affections,  and  cares  to  the  benefit  of  their  neighbors; 
or  to  gather,  feed,  and  educate  the  abandoned  orphans;  or  to  teach 
all  liberal  and  useful  sciences  to  well-born  youth;  or  to  go  through 
solitary  lands  to  console  the  labors  of  the  poor  farmers,  and  to  draw 
from  the  wilderness  and  unknown  corners  savage  spirits  to  the  love 
of  humanity  and  Religion;  or  again,  in  the  deep  snow  and  ice  on 
very  high  and  inaccessible  peaks,  to  retrace  with  wonderful  arts  the  lost 
travelers,  and  restore  their  bodies  and  their  souls;  or  else  to  redeem 
with  gold,  and,  where  gold  does  not  suffice,  with  their  own  person, 
the  liberty  of  the  slaves ;  or,  finally,  to  assist  the  asylums  of  misery, 
attend  those  infected  with  pestilence,  and  receive  the  sighs  of  the 
dying.  That  charity  of  which  the  Apostles,  leaving  in  themselves 
so  powerful  and  magnanimous  an  example,  teach  us  that,  without  it, 
the  regular  congregations  of  persons  would  be  gatherings  of  idleness, 
•greediness,  and  hypocrisy.  St.  Paul  asserts  of  himself  (he  being  a  man 
of  the  highest  perfection)  that  if  he  were  to  speak  with  the  tongues 
of  angels,  had  the  gift  of  prophecy,  penetrated  well  into  the  depth  of 
mysteries,  had  such  faith  in  his  breast  that  .he  could  remove  mountains, 
were  to  give  all  he  had  to  the  poor,  and  throw  himself  into  the  flames 
to  burn  and  be  consumed,  and  yet  was  without  it  (the  virtue  of  charity), 
he  would  be  but  as  sounding  brass  or  a  tinkling  cymbal  (i  Cor.  xiii). 

That  charity,  therefore,  which  is  the  mark  of  the  follower  of  Christ, 
the  bond  of  every  perfection,  Magdalen  wished  to  see  practiced  in  a  singu 
lar  manner  by  her  disciples.  Every  day,  and  several  times  during  the  day, 
she  was  wont  to  repeat  to  them  with  St.  John:  " Daughters,  love  one 
another,  for  this  is  the  command  of  Jesus."  She  wished  them  to  love 
one  another  as  if  born  of  the  same  parents ;  and  she  did  not  wish  to  see 
any  difference  between  them  ;  therefore  she  said  always  that  every  one 
was  to  regard  her  companions  as  daughters  of  the  Eternal  Father,  as 
brides  of  Jesus,  as  temples  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  as  sisters  of  the  angels ; 
and  that,  when  together,  they  were  to  deem  themselves  to  be  as  if  in  a 
choir  of  angels,  for  the  virgins  are  representing  them ;  and  she  wished 
their  love  to  be  such'  that  whenever  they  met  through  the  house 
they  were  to  exult  with  joy  in  their  heart,  as  if  meeting  for  the  first 
time,  and  to  salute  one  another  with  words  tending  to  the  love  of  God. 
In  order  to  eradicate  from  their  hearts  every  root  of  spiritual  envy,  or  to 
prevent  its  taking  root  therein,  she  taught  them  always  to  wish  more 
good  to  their  neighbor  than  to  themselves.  "If  you,  daughters,"  (these 
were  her  words)  "  wish  for  yourselves  a  degree  of  grace,  ask  two  degrees 
of  it  from  God  for  your  sisters;"  and,  giving  the  reason '  therefor,  she 
added,  "because  you  must  deem  them  more  worthy  than  yourselves, 


and  better  able  to  produce  more  fruit  and  give  more  glory  to  God  than 
you  would  ;  and  in  this  manner  you  will  purify  your  souls  from  self- 
esteem  and  any  self-interest,  and  dispose  yourselves  the  better  to  receive 
the  same  graces."  She  trained  them  to  confer  mutual  favors,  exchang 
ing  their  offices  and  labors ;  and  exhorted  them  to  communicate  to 
one  another  their  spiritual  goods.  She  used  to  say  that  she  did  not 
like  those  persons  who  were  good  for  themselves  alone;  nay,  she  affirmed 
that  those  who  are  good  only  for  themselves  are  not  good  either  for 
themselves  or  for  others ;  on  the  contrary,  she  liked  very  much  those 
persons  who  were  spiritually  communicative,  and  she  gave  the  following 
reason  for  it :  "If  you  bring  forth  no  fruit  out  of  the  graces  God  bestows 
upon  you,  by  communicating  them  to  others,  they  might  do  it." 

One  day  the  novices  proposed  to  practice  among  themselves  a  par- 
ticular  devotion,  which  a  girl  already  admitted  as  a  probationer  in  the 
monastery  wished  to  join,  but  they  would  not  accept  her.  On  hearing  this, 
the  Saint  severely  reprimanded  the  novices,  saying  that  theirs  was  no  devo 
tion,  but  self-love,  since  it  did  not  extend  to  the  charity  of  their  neighbor. 

One  was  to  bear  the  vexations  and  the  faults  of  the  other  with 
great  deference,  and  woe  to  her  who  murmured ;  the  holy  mistress  did 
not  tolerate,  in  regard  to  that,  the  least  fault.  She  well  knew  that 
speaking  against  a  neighbor  is  speaking  against  the  law,  and  de 
tractors,  therefore,  are  hated  of  God;  and  that  there  being  but  one 
Legislator  and  Judge  of  the  living  and  the  dead,  those  who  presume  to 
condemn  others  draw  upon  their  heads  the  most  terrible  condemnation.1 
She  well  knew  how  the  poison  of  a  slanderous  tongue  is  more  fatal  than 
that  of  the  murderous  steel ;  for  the  slanderer  by  a  single  act  wounds 
both  religion  and  society,  and  tends  to  rob  the  individual  of  what  he 
holds  most  sacred  and  precious.  Hence  if  any  of  her  subjects  incurred 
even  lightly  this  fault,  she  would  not  allow  her  in  the  evening  to  enter 
the  oratory  with  the  rest,  unless  she  had  previously  atoned  for  it  by  some 
penance,  which  ordinarily  consisted  in  the  avowal  of  the  fault  before  the 
other  novices ;  or,  if  the  murmuring  was  slight,  the  Saint  was  wont  to 
impose  on  the  guilty  one  the  making  of  a  cross  with  her  tongue  on  the 
floor  ;  and,  if  more  grievous,  she  would  make  her  lie  supine  on  it 
whilst  her  companions  would  dexterously  trample  with  their  feet  on 
her  mouth,  or  else  she  would  make  every  novice  strike  her  mouth 
with  a  discipline.  This  operation,  more  humiliating  than  painful, 
on  account  of  the  discretion  with  which  it  was  performed,  produced 
wonderful  effect.  Neither  did  she  allow  one  who  had  some  ill  feeling 
with  another  to  go  to  rest  herself,  unless  she  had  first  been  reconciled. 
Nay,  she  had  prescribed  that  twice  a  day  all  should  mutually  ask  forgive 
ness  of  the  bad  example  they  had  given  to  one  another,  and  of  the  little 
love  they  had  borne  to  one  another,  which  was  also  a  very  valuable 
means  to  beget  true  love.  Moreover,  to  make  them  better  appreciate 
the  wise  restraint  of  speech,  she  used  to  say  that  had  she  known  one  who 
had  never  spoken  ill  of  her  neighbor  during  her  life,  she  would  have 
deemed  her  worthy  of  being  canonized  before  death.  Among  the 
remedies  she  suggested  to  them,  in  order  that  they  might  avoid  fall 
ing  into  this  fault,  was  the  following,  viz.,  to  speak  very  little  of  their 
neighbor,  even  for  good,  " because"  (and  she  often  repeated  it)  "one 


commences  in  good  but  afterwards  generally  ends  in  evil."  She  taught 
that,  whenever  it  was  necessary  to  speak  of  our  neighbor,  nothing 
should  ever  be  said  in  his  absence  that  we  would  find  difficult  to  repeat 
in  his  presence. 

The  other  thing  in  which  she  wanted  her  subjects  to  exercise  them 
selves  was  prayer,  the  importance,  necessity,  and  fruit  of  which  she 
daily  expounded  to  them.  Prayer,  she  said,,  is  a  short  road  to  reach 
spiritual  perfection ;  as  in  it  Christ  teaches  the  soul,  and  by  it  the  soul 
'detaches  itself  from  created  things  and  unites  itself  to  God.  "If  you 
wish,  daughters"  (she  thus  expressed  herself),  u  to  acquire  in  a  short 
time  great  perfection,  take  the  Crucifix  as  your  teacher,  and  let  your  ears 
be  attentive  to  His  words,  as  He  continually  speaks  to  your  heart, 
especially  after  you  have  received  the  Most  Holy  Sacrament.  Give 
yourselves  to  prayer,  as  the  intercourse  with  God  in  prayer  makes  a  person 
care  for  nothing  but  God ;  let  God  suffice  you,  and  care  not  for  relatives 
or  any  earthly  thing;  as,  I  assure  you,  in  Him  you  will  find  every  true 
good  and  a  perfect  fulfillment  of  all  your  desires."  Every  morning  she 
gave  them  the  points  of  meditation  for  the  day;  and  if  anyone  was 
ignorant  of  how  to  meditate,  she  would  place  her  near  herself,  instructing 
her  by  the  practice  of  her  own  meditation,  made  in  a  clear  manner,  and 
during  which  she  was  very  often  rapt  in  ecstasy  and  felt  sublime  senti 
ments  of  divine  things,  to  the  amazement  and  profit  of  her  who  stood 
near  by.  Sometimes  she  called  some  sister  to  spend  the  night  with  her 
in  prayer;  and  to  all  she  frequently  addressed  questions  as  to  how  and 
with  what  profit  they  had  meditated;  and  in  many  other  ways  she  made 
this  holy  exercise  easy  to  them.  On  the  approach  of  the  solemnities 
which  the  Church  celebrates  during  the  year,  eight  or  ten  days  in 
advance  she  began  to  make  them  prepare  themselves  by  means  of  some 
devout  practice  of  prayer  or  mortification;  which  she  also  performed, 
both  to  encourage  and  to  instruct  them  by  her  example.  With  the 
same  object  in  view  she  zealously  endeavored  to  accustom  them  to  be 
prompt,  reverent,  and  devout  in  the  choir,  impressing  upon  them  that 
the  Divine  Office  is  one  of  the  principal  obligations  of  nuns,  and  that 
therein  chiefly  is  the  Divine  Majesty  acknowledged,  honored,  and  adored. 
Sometimes  before  they  went  to  the  choir  she  called  them  and  said  to 
them  :  "  Daughters,  reflect  that  till  now  you  have  been  engaged  in 
human  acts,  dealing  with  creatures;  now  you  have  to  perform  angelic 
acts,  dealing  with  God  Himself;"  or:  "Consider  that  this  exercise  is 
so  important  that  the  blessed  spirits  themselves,  whose  purity  is  wonder 
ful,  scarcely  dare  with  fear  and  trembling  to  perform  it ;  with  how  much 
greater  reverence  must  we  then  assist  before  the  Divine  Countenance, 
who  are  most  unworthy  creatures?"  Moreover,  she  taught  them  that, 
before  commencing  the  Divine  Office,  they  should  make  acts  of  humility, 
deeming  themselves  unworthy  to  praise  God  with  the  angels  ;  and  that, 
in  order  that  they  might  be  acceptable,  they  should  offer  their  praises  to 
God  in  union  with  those  that  the  blessed  spirits  offer  to  Him  in  the 
Heavenly  Fatherland  ;  "  because,"  she  said,  "  though  it  is  impossible  for 
our  praises  to  attain  to  the  purity  of  those  which  are  presented  by  the 
blessed  spirits  to  His  Divine  Majesty,  we  are  by  no  means  forbidden  to 
wish  to  attain  to  so  high  a  mode  of  worshiping  God." 

202  THE    UFK    AND   WORKS   OF 

She  also  inspired  these  daughters  with  the  same  feeling  of  God's 
love  that  she  had  in  reciting  the  Gloria  Patri,  thinking  she  was  giving 
up  her  head  to  martyrdom  for  the  Christian  faith,  and  other  like  de 
votions.  She  was  also  very  attentive  to  noticing  whether  the  sisters  in 
the  choir  were  modest  and  composed,  conforming  themselves  to  the 
ceremonies  and  the  usual  mode  of  reciting  the  psalms ;  and  on  discover 
ing  them  wanting  in  this — now  with  charity  and  amiability,  now  with 
severity,  as  the  need  might  be — she  corrected  them.  Once  in  particular, 
seeing  a  novice  who  was  paying  no  attention  to  the  Office,  and  who  did 
not  even  compose  herself  after  being  reproachfully  hinted  at,  Magdalen 
called  her  out  to  the  middle  of  the  choir  and  then  ejected  her,  saying 
to  her  afterwards  that  she  had  seen  the  devil  standing  around  her, 
dancing  and  leaping,  while  she  distracted  herself  and  paid  no  attention 
to  the  beckoning  of  the  mistress. 

In  order  that  the  novices  might  become  attached  to  the  recitation  in 
common  of  the  Divine  Office  above  any  private  devotion,  if  anyone  asked 
her  permission  to  leave  the  choir  in  order  to  go  and  make  mental  prayer, 
she  answered  her:  "Daughter,  it  seems  to  me  that  I  would  .deceive 
thee  if  I  granted  thee  such  a  permission;  because  whilst  thinking  that 
thou  dost  give  greater  honor  to  God,  and  dost  please  Him  more  by  this 
private  prayer  of  thine,  thou  wouldst  find  afterwards  to  have  merited 
little,  as,  compared  with  reciting  the  Divine  Office  in  the  choir  with  the 
other  nuns,  every  other  prayer  and  private  devotion  is  of  little  merit  in 
the  sight  of  God."  Thus  she  persuaded  her  to  appreciate  and  follow 
with  love  the  exercises  of  the  choir,  to  which  she  wanted  all  to  be  very 
prompt  and  attentive. 

There  was  in  her  no  virtue  which  she  did  not  try,  as  far  as  she  was 
able,  to  transplant  in  the  souls  of  those  committed  to  her  care.  We  have 
already  seen  how  Magdalen  had  at  heart  the  good  intention  in  work 
ing  (the  root  whence  an  action  derives  most  of  its  value).  Her  thought 
had  no  aim  but  the  divine  honor  and  pleasure.  Hence  she  took  the 
greatest  care  to  show  her  disciples  how  pleasing  to  God  a  soul  becomes 
that  works  with  a  pure  intention ;  and  how  this  enhances  the  value  and 
makes  meritorious  even  the  least  action.  She  was  wont  to  say  that  if 
one  performed  all  his  actions  with  the  pure  intention  of  giving  glory  to 
God,  he  would  after  death  go  to  heaven  without  entering  purgatory. 
On  the  contrary,  she  manifested  to  her  disciples  how  she  detested,  like 
deadly  poison,  the  working  at  random  or  for  any  other  end  but  God ;  and 
in  order  that  they  might  persist  in  the  practice  of  this  exercise,  often  she 
suddenly  asked  one  or  the  other  about  the  intention  they  had  in  the  work 
they  were  then  performing  ;  and,  on  any  of  them  being  found  somewhat 
perplexed  in  giving  the  answer,  this  sufficed  for  the  wise  and  subtle  mistress 
to  judge  that  that  sister  acted  at  least  inconsiderately.  Hence  she  would 
proceed  to  correct  her  in  the  following  words  :  "  Dost  thou  not  see  that 
thou  losest  the  merit  of  this  action?  God  takes  no  pleasure  in  actions 
done  without  a  good  intention."  Which  spur  was  very  efficacious  to 
promote  the  spiritual  profit  of  the  young  novices.  Afterwards  she 
taught  them  that  in  order  to  make  their  works  acceptable  to  God,  they 
should  unite  them  with  those  that  Jesus  performed  whilst  on  earth  ;  and 
she  was  wont  to  say  that  our  actions,  though  good,  of  themselves  alone 


are,  like  lead,  of  little  value ;  but  when  united  to  those  of  Jesus  they 
become  like  most  pure  gold.  Among  the  means  she  suggested  for 
acquiring  purity  of  intention,  the  principal  one  was  to  keep  the  mind 
united  to  God  with  holy  thoughts  and  affections,  for  the  exercise  of 
which  she  used  the  above-mentioned  method  ;  hence,  she  would  ask  one: 
"What  dost  thou  think  about?  Where  is  thy  heart?"  and  the  other: 
"How  many  times  didst  thou  think  of  God  to-day?  What  was  thy  first 
thought  after  waking  up?  How  many  times  didst  thou  thank  God 
to-day  for  having  called  thee  to  Religion  ?  What  thoughts  hadst  thou 
in  reciting  the  Divine  Office  ?  What  profit  didst  thou  derive  from  the 
reading  in  the  refectory?"  After  they  had  heard  a  sermon  or  an  exhor 
tation,  she  would  question  them  on  the  profit  they  had  drawn  therefrom, 
and  also  on  the  sentiments  and  resolutions  of  the  meditation,  especially 
on  the  days  they  had  received  Holy  Communion,  asking  them:  "  What 
did  Jesus  tell  you  within  your  hearts  when  you  received  Him  ?  How 
many  times  did  you  thank  Him  on  this  day,  Who  gave  Himself  to  you 
in  the  Most  Holy  Sacrament?  "  On  Thursday  and  Friday, — days  which 
she  spent  in  a  special  feeling  of  devotion,  the  one  in  remembrance  of 
the  Eucharistic  institution,  which  therefore  she  called  the  day  of  love,  the 
other  in  memory  of  the  Passion,  called  by  her  the  day  of  the  nuptials, — • 
she  was  wont  to  ask  of  the  nuns  the  following  question:  "Did  you 
consider  what  Jesus  has  done  for  you  on  this  day?"  Thus,  according  to 
the  times  and  the  occasions,  she  asked  them  about  what  passed  within 
their  hearts ;  so  that  she  not  only  made  them  vigilant  and  exercised 
them  to  work  conscientiously  and  keep  their  spirits  united  to  God,  but 
also  accustomed  them  to  lay  their  hearts  and  thoughts  ingenuously  open 
to  her, — a  thing  she  deemed  greatly  adapted  to  attain  to  Religious  per 
fection  and  free  their  souls  from  the  frauds  of  the  devil.  To  this  end 
she  also  wanted  them  to  present  themselves  every  day  to  tell  her  their 
faults.  Sometimes  one  of  them  would  object  that  it  was  impossible  to 
always  have  the  mind  united  to  God  ;  and  to  her  the  Saint  would 
answer:  "  It  is  true  that  it  is  impossible  actually  to  think  always  of  God, 
as  this  shall  be  done  perfectly  but  in  tjie  Fatherland  ;  it  can  be  accom 
plished,  though,  viz.,  to  be  always  united  to  God,  by  having  Him  always 
in  view ;  as,  even  if  we  work  for  creatures,  for  the  good  of  their  souls  or  of 
their  bodies,  and  without  any  other  end  in  view  but  to  give  honor  and 
glory  to  God,  so  that  if  it  were  not  for  God  we  would  not  do  it,  it  can 
not  be  denied  that  in  that  manner  we  are  always  united  to  God  ;  and  if 
we  labor  for  the  good  of  Religion,  and  do  it  because  Religion  is  God's, 
and  what  we  do,  we  do  only  to  please  and  honor  and  glorify  Him,  it 
must  be  admitted  that  all  those  who  do  this  are  united  with  God." 

Furthermore,  she  deemed  the  observance  of  silence  very  opportune, 
nay,  even  necessary  to  attain  to  the  union  of  mind  with  God,  as  it  is  pre 
scribed  by  the  Religions  that  the  soul  may  reenter  into  itself  and  gather 
itself  in  God ;  and  she  was  wont  to  say  that  a  religious  person  who  has 
no  taste  for  silence  cannot  by  any  means  taste  the  things  of  God.  Hence 
she  insisted  on  having  silence  rigorously  kept  by  all  her  disciples,  and 
with  a  true  religious  spirit ;  and  if  any  of  them  failed  to  do  it,  besides 
the  penance  she  would  impose  on  her,  she  herself,  who  was  a  perfect 
keeper  of  silence,  would  remain  some  time  silent  during  recreation  time, 

204  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

as  if  to  atone  for  tlie  fault  of  her  disciple,  saying  to  anyone  who  asked 
her  the  reason  therefor  :  u  I  want  Religion  to  have  its  due."  She  used 
also  to  teach  what  thoughts  and  considerations  were  to  be  attended  to  in 
time  of  silence,  among  which  was  the  following,  viz.  :  to  consider  the 
works  Jesus  wrought  from  His  I2th  to  His  3Oth  year,  whilst  He  lived  a 
hidden  life,  which  works  the  Evangelists  have  not  made  known ;  and  she 
added  that  the  works  done  in  silence  are  very  pleasing  to  God — that  is, 
those  which  do  not  appear  to  the  eyes  of  others;  and  that  it  is  more 
useful  and  safer  to  do  great  works  which  appear  very  small  than  to  do 
those  works  which  are  great  only  in  appearance.  But,  nevertheless,  she 
wished  all  to  work  with  manifest  fervor,  and  that  everyone  should  aim 
at  the  greatest  possible  perfection.  On  discovering  a  nun  who  was 
slothful  and  without  fervor,  she  reprehended  her,  and,  to  sting  her,  she 
said  to  her  that  whoever  acts  coldly  in  Religion  is  nothing  but  a  burden 
to  Religion,  being  in  need  of  being  supported  by  Religion,  which  is  the 
reverse  of  what  should  be  with  nuns,  who  are  themselves  bound  to  sup 
port  Religion.  In  order  that  they  might  not  grow  up  slothful  and  negli 
gent,  she  always  kept  them  busy  and  never  permitted  them  to  be  idle. 

Though  the  life  of  her  monastery  was  the  total  observance  of  a 
perfect  religious  community,  nevertheless,  well  reflecting  on  how 
easy  it  was  to  fail  in  regard  to  the  holy  vow  of  poverty,  on 
account  of  the  inordinate  attachment  of  humanity  to  earthly  things, 
though  these  be  few  and  small,  she  never  ceased  to  enlighten  the  new 
Religious  in  regard  to  the  beauty  and  importance  of  this  vow,  show 
ing  them  how  the  perfection  to  which  they  were  called  depended 
chiefly  upon  the  full  observance  of  it.  She  used  to  try  to  find  out 
to  what  they  were  attached,  and  employed  the  best  means  to  detach 
them  from  any  earthly  object.  Therefore,  she  had  prescribed  for 
them  that  they  should  examine  themselves  monthly,  in  order  to  see 
whether  they  were  inordinately  attached  to  anything,  or  possessed  any 
thing  superfluous,  on  finding  which  they  were  to  give  it  up ;  and  she 
used  to  say  to  them  that  they  should  rather  love  to  live  in  need  than  to 
have  anything  superfluous,  as  whatever  is  wanting  a  Religious  in  this 
life  will  be  given  to  her  superabundantly  in  the  next.  That  they  might 
not  entertain  any  affection  even  for  necessary  things,  she  often  made 
them  exchange  habits  among  themselves,  as  is  done  with  so  much  praise 
and  profit  in  the  Society  of  Jesus,  and  on  the  strength  of  this  example 
in  several  other  Congregations,  especially  in  that  of  the  Salesians,  where 
a  nun  cannot  propose  to  make  use  to-morrow  of  a  pin  used  to-day. 
Magdalen  noticed  that  one  of  her  disciples  had  an  attachment  for  a  little 
book  of  spiritual  exercises,  written  by  her  own  hand,  and  she  made  her 
throw  it  into  the  fire.  She  took  from  another  a  rosary,  because  she  had 
too  much  attachment  for  it,  and  only  returned  it  to  her  six  months  after 
wards,  with  the  injunction,  though,  that  she  should  bring  it  back  to  her 
every  evening  ;  which  was  done  for  some  time,  that  is,  until  that  novice 
learned  to  hold  it  as  lent  to  her  by  the  Religion ;  as  this  is  the  way 
the  Religious  must  hold  all  things  granted  them  for  their  use.  By  this 
means  she  led  her  disciples  to  the  love  of  poverty  and,  together  with  it, 
to  the  mortification  of  themselves.  In  regard  to  this  self-mortification, 
considered  in  its  perfect  degree,  she  was  wont  to  tell  them,  that  anyone 


who  expects  to  find  satisfaction  and  consolation  in  the  giving  of  himself 
to  the  service  of  God,  deceives  himself  very  much,  as  God  is  not  to  be 
found  in  the  satisfaction,  but  in  the  true  virtue  which  has  its  proper 
place  in  tribulations,  toils,  and  hardships,  and  we  are  to  hold  in  esteem 
only  those  satisfactions  and  sweetnesses  which  animate  us  to  suffer 
willingly  for  the  love  and  glory  of  God,  and  to  fulfill  His  Divine  Will. 
She  asserted  that  that  ^soul  was  unworthy  of  being  called  a  servant  of 
God  that  did  not  endure  and  strive  for  this  virtue.  Hence,  she  did  not 
trust  much  to  the  stability  of  those  souls  that  appeared  to  have  acquired 
their  perfection  in  peace  and  spiritual  sweetnesses ;  because  (she  expressly 
said)  that  is  not  true  virtue  which  is  not  tried  by  its  opposite,  viz., 
temptations  and  tribulations,  as  God  requires  of  those  creatures  who 
wish  to  serve  Him  perfect  death,  without  which  nothing  can  be  done; 
and  anyone  who  enters  rightly  into  the  service  of  God  does  nothing  but 
in  a  thousand  ways  and  manners  give  death  to  himself  at  every  hour 
and  moment.  This  is  the  reason  she  gave  for  it :  "The  life  of  our  flesh 
is  the  delight  and  pleasure  of  sensuality;  the  death  of  our  flesh  is  to 
deprive  it  of  every  delight  and  pleasure,  and  to  conquer  it  by  means  of 
fasts  and  vigils  and  austerities.  The  life  of  our  judgment  and  will  con 
sists  in  disposing  of  itself  and  its  things  as  it  pleases ;  its  death,  to  subdue 
it  always  to  the  judgment  and  the  will  of  others  by  means  of  obedience; 
and  thus  death  is  given  to  the  appetite  of  our  reputation  and  pride  by 
continually  making  acts  of  true  humility  and  contempt  of  self,  and  by 
hiding  in  order  to  remain  unknown.  Such  a  death  must  anyone  give 
to  himself,  who  truly  wishes  to  serve  God ;  and  he  deceives  himself  who 
thinks  he  can  give  himself  this  death  by  holding  in  his  mouth  the  milk 
and  honey  of  interior  and  exterior  sweetnesses;  as  it  cannot  be  that  the 
soul  which  truly  dies  in  order  that  God  may  live  in  it,  does  not  feel 
pain."  On  seeing  a  novice  very  quiet  and  tranquil,  giving  no  sign  of 
troubles  or  difficulties,  she  became  pensive,  and  was  wont  to  say  to  her: 
"  I  fear  thou  mayest  have  placed  thy  end  in  accommodating  the  exterior 
and  forgetting  the  interior."  She  added:  "Thou  must  regret  as  not 
having  well  spent  it,  the  day  in  which  thou  hast  not  mortified  thyself." 
Humility  being  the  foundation  of  every  spiritual  edifice,  and  Mary 
Magdalen  De-Pazzi  possessing  it  in  an  heroic  degree,  well  may  we  believe 
how  much  she  strove  to  plant  it  in  the  hearts  of  those  girls  who  were 
coming  to  serve  God  in  her  monastery.  As  the  height  of  the  edifice 
derives  its  strength  from  the  depth  of  its  foundation,  she  first  of  all 
sought  to  root  out  of  the  hearts  of  her  subjects  all  the  ground  of  self-love 
and  human  pride.  She  pretended  to  have  less  regard  for  those  endowed 
with  more  talent  and  ability,  and  more  apt  to  take  pride  in  their 
actions,  than  for  others,  and  when  compelled  to  make  actual  use  of  the 
former,  she  would  put  them  at  the  more  humble  and  menial  occupations. 
This  she  did  in  particular  with  two  young  ladies,  over  twenty  years  of 
age,  whom  she  wished  to  humble  on  account  of  a  certain  conceit  they 
entertained  of  knowing  more  than  others.  She  appointed  them  to  read 
in  the  refectory  the  children's  ABC  book.  Others  of  the  same  disposi 
tion  she  would  order  to  recite  publicly  and  aloud  the  Hail  Mary, 
or  she  would  have  them  reprimanded  by  some  of  the  mothers  with 
words  indicating  that  they  were  considered  as  of  little  capacity.  When- 

206  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

ever  it  was  necessary  to  commit  to  them  anything  of  greater  impor 
tance,  the  Saint  used  such  a  prudential  way  in  giving  the  commission 
that  it  would  exclude  even  the  slightest  motive  for  them  to  grow  proud ; 
and,  even  after  they  had  perfectly  fulfilled  the  commission,  she  found  in 
their  action  so  many  and  so  great  faults  that  in  exposing  them  they 
were  overtaken  with  shame  rather  than  elated  with  vainglory,  and 
regarded  as  the  mere  truth,  and  not  exaggeration,  what  the  holy  mistress 
would  say,  so  much  was  she  guided  by  the  Spirit  of  God  in  directing 
these  souls.  Whenever  she  noticed  that  anyone  considered  herself  as 
becoming  useful,  she  called  her  out  from  the  midst  of  the  others,  and 
said  to  her:  "  This  daughter  thinks  that  it  was  great  luck  for  us  to  get 
her  into  our  monastery ;  but  I  tell  you  that  she  was  very  fortunate  in 
the  nuns  having  been  pleased  to  accept  and  admit  her  into  it."  Some 
times  those  who  came  to  the  Religion,  before  receiving  the  holy  habit, 
were  made  by  her,  though  they  had  on  their  silk  dresses  and  jewels,  to 
wait  on  the  table  and  kiss  the  feet  of  the  other  nuns.  One  was  very 
sensitive  at  being  reprehended  and  remarked  for  her  faults,  and  the  zealous 
mother  imposed  on  all  the  novices  diligently  to  observe  all  her  faults 
and  tell  her  about  them ;  and  she  publicly  reprehended  and  corrected 
her.  Let  us  not  think  for  a  moment  that  this  practice  of  the  Religious, 
viz.,  the  relating  of  the  faults  of  others  to  the  superioress,  is  opposed  to 
charity,  as  those  evil-inclined  persons  would  have  us  believe  who  get 
hold  of  anything  to  blackmail  or  criticise  others.  Truth  conscientiously 
used  can  never  be  opposed  to  virtue.  Paid  tale-bearing  is  a  vile  thing, 
but  the  lending  of  light  and  strength  to  those  who  have  to  lead  their 
flock  to  the  perfection  of  the  spirit  cannot  be  but  a  praiseworthy  and 
useful  undertaking. 

At  that  time  a  noble  girl  of  nineteen,  with  great  spirit  and  desire 
for  religious  perfection,  came  to  the  Religion.  Having  spent  a  few  days 
in  the  monastery,  and  presuming  too  much  of  herself,  or  transported  by 
youthful  fervor,  made  it  known  that  she  found  a  difficulty  in  there  re 
ceiving  the  sacred  habit,  as  there  were  no  penances  practiced  and  no 
opportunity  to  suffer  for  the  love  of  God.  On  another  occasion,  she 
also  said  that  she  had  come  to  the  Religion  in  order  to  be  a  nun  in  fact, 
and  not  in  name  only,  and  that  she  would  not  perform  certain  ceremonies 
which  they  are  wont  to  use  when  the  holy  habit  is  received.  The 
holy  mother  noted  both  these  expressions  of  opinion,  and  dissembling 
as  to  the  first,  or  rather  leaving  the  correction  of  it  to  a  better  time,  in 
regard  to  the  second,  marked  as  it  was  by  greater  pride  and  singularity, 
she  immediately  and  severely  reprimanded  the  girl,  telling  her  repeatedly : 
"These  are  the  girls  the  people  of  the  world  think  have  so  much  light 
and  spirit."  Which  words  were  uttered  by  her  with  so  much  emphasis 
that  the  girl,  being  overtaken  by  great  shame  and  compunction,  asked  for 
giveness  for  her  fault,  both  of  the  mother  and  of  the  novices.  This  act 
of  submission,  though  sincere,  did  not  make  the  holy  directress  relent 
any  in  trying,  when  opportunity  offered,  to  cure  the  sick  spirit  of  this 
subject  of  hers.  Too  important  it  is  to  eradicate  from  the  soul  of 
youthful  persons  even  the  most  secret  roots  of  anything  vicious, 
in  order  to  plant  therein  true  virtue  and  with  profit.  '  One  must  not 
become  so  easily  tired  of  inculcating  in  youthful  souls  those  virtues 


which  are  necessary  to  them ;  nor  must  one  feel  satisfied  with  some  act 
which  they  are  performing  in  relation  to  them,  whilst  fervor  more  than 
reflection  moves  and  transports  their  operations.  Shortly  after  this  girl 
had  taken  the  monastic  habit,  the  holy  mother  behaved  towards  her  with 
such  severity  that,  by  mortifying  and  punishing  her  at  every  little 
occasion,  it  almost  seemed  as  though  she  harbored  some  ill  feeling 
towards  her.  No  day  elapsed  in  which  she  did  not  cast  up  those  ex 
pressions  to  her  several  times;  and,  more  than  that,  she  caused  the 
other  novices  to  reprehend  and  reproach  her  as  the  most  imperfect  and 
faulty  one  in  the  monastery.  This  was  serious  and  hard  for  the  soul  of 
that  girl  to  bear  ;  so  that,  on  seeing  herself  in  such  a  manner  and  by  all 
found  fault  with,  she  could  not  refrain  from  crying  and  grieving.  There 
fore,  the  Saint  said  to  her:  "  Remember,  sister,  that  thou  didst  find 
difficulty  in  selecting  this  monastery,  because  great  penances  were  not 
being  practiced  herein  ; "  and  by  this  road  she  led  her  to  the  conviction  of 
her  own  error — to  disillusion,  humiliation,  and  amendment.  Though  in 
acting  towards  her  with  such  severity  Magdalen's  charitable  feelings 
would  not  permit  her  to  leave  that  girl  in  those  afflictions  without  any 
consolation,  but  she  often  said  to  her  :  "  Sister,  anyone  that  wishes  to 
give  herself  wholly  to  God  must,  before  all,  give  up  her  own  self,"  and 
the  like  things.  Thus,  by  pointing  out  the  will  of  God,  the  greater 
spiritual  benefit,  and  the  eternal  reward,  she  relieved  and  greatly 
encouraged  the  downcast  spirit  of  that  novice. 

In  the  civil  order,  also,  it  is  acknowledged  that  to  start  a  man 
on  the  road  to  honor  and  equity,  it  is  necessary  from  the  beginning 
to  put  such  a  restraint  on  him  as  will  habituate  him  easily  to  submit  his 
own  judgment  and  will  to  the  will  of  others  ;  by  the  doing  of  which  a 
person  of  education  is  distinguished  from  an  ignorant  and  uncivilized  one. 
This  is  absolutely  required  by  every  educational  institution,  110  matter 
whether  its  religious  maxims  differ  from  those  of  pure  Catholicism  or 
not.  Anyone  who  has  not  been  placed  under  restraint  in  the  years  of 
his  growth  cannot  prove  to  be  anything  but  a  man  of  disorder,  of  scandal, 
of  ruin.  It  is  j  ust  the  yoke  of  abnegation  and  mortification  that  Jeremias 
the  prophet  wishes  to  see  imposed  on  the  young  people,  not  so  much  to 
make  them  good  citizens  as  to  make  them  acceptable  to  God  by  eternal 
predestination.  But  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  imposes  it  on  us  more  openly 
by  the  fullness  and  perfection  of  the  law,  protesting  that  he  is  not  worthy 
of  Him,  and  consequently  cannot  obtain  the  eternal  salvation,  who  does 
not  renounce  even  his  irregular  interior  sentiments.  He  declares  it  to 
be  also  morally  impossible  for  him  who  did  not  bend  to  right  even  from 
his  tender  age.  Hence  Mary  Magdalen  employed  a  great  deal  of  care 
and  diligence  in  subduing  the  souls  of  her  disciples,  whom  she  aimed  at 
leading  to  the  pinnacle  of  spiritual  perfection.  She  explored  their  incli 
nations  in  every  way,  and,  having  found  them  out,  without  delay  she 
ordered  them  to  do  things  just  contrary  to  them.  Hence,  whenever  she 
found  that  a  person  was  much  inclined  to  prayer,  she  sent  her  to  sleep, 
or  to  some  exterior  exercises,  or  to  do  some  work ;  and,  vice  versa,  if  she 
knew  of  some  who  were  inclined  to  exterior  exercises,  she  assigned  to 
them  prayer  or  some  other  interior  practice.  Thus  she  imposed  simply 
a  Pater  nosier  and  an  Ave  Maria  on  one  who  wished  to  practice  many 


and  great  penances,  and,  on  the  contrary,  she  imposed  heavy  mortifi 
cations  on  those  who  felt  a  repugnance  towards  them.  Sometimes 
whilst  the  nuns  were  all  in  the  choir,  she  called  upon  one  of  them  and 
sent  her  out  to  count  the  rafters  of  the  hall  or  the  cell.  At  other  times, 
she  made  some  of  them  draw  water  and  throw  it  back  into  the  well. 
She  also  commanded  some  to  go  to  the  orchard  and  catch  ants  or 
butterflies.  One  day  she  ordered  a  novice  to  go  into  the  refectory  with 
the  little  tunic  alone.  She  was  satisfied  at  seeing  her  promptitude  to 
obey  and  her  good  disposition,  and  made  her  dress  again.  To  another 
she  prescribed  going  every  day  into  the  orchard,  there  to  learn  from  the 
trees  the  manner  of  praying,  and  to  keep  an  account  of  the  lessons  she 
learned  from  them. 

We  have  already  said  how  very  often  she  delayed  until  a  better  time 
correcting  the  faults  of  her  subjects.  It,  therefore,  happened  that  feign 
ing  not  to  notice  sometimes  during  the  day  the  fault  of  someone,  she 
waited  until  that  one  had  gone  to  bed  and  then  had  her  called,  and, 
placing  her  on  her  knees  before  her,  she,  with  severe  words,  reprehended 
her  for  having  dared  to  go  to  bed  without  first  calling  herself  guilty  of 
her  fault  and  humbling  herself  for  it.  But  correcting  the  faults  of  her 
subjects  was  a  small  thing  with  her.  What  she  wanted  above  all  was 
the  effect  of  the  correction,  which  is  amendment.  In  order  to  help 
them  to  secure  this  essential  advantage,  she  ordered  them  to  come  to  her 
every  evening  and  tell  her  how  many  times  they  had  fallen  into  a  fault 
which  had  once  been  corrected  by  her.  If  any  of  them  appeared  before 
her  full  of  shame  for  her  repeated  faults,  she  would  cast  her  away,  telling 
her  with  seeming  harshness  :  "I  will  lose  no  time  with  thee  when  thou 
wishest  not  to  profit  by  my  advice."  And  then,  suddenly,  she  would 
call  her  back  and  make  her  confess  those  repeated  faults  which  she  would 
not  hear  of  before  ;  and,  moreover,  she  would  command  her  to  manifest 
what  thoughts  had  passed  through  her  mind  whilst  she  had  been  so  cast 
away.  She  permitted  a  novice  to  go  to  bed,  refusing  to  hear  her,  and 
afterwards  she  called  her  to  humble  herself  and  acknowledge  her  faults. 
Likewise  the  good,  zealous  mother  once  went  to  the  bedside  of  one  who 
had  lain  down  to  sleep  before  she  had  been  permitted  to  confess  her 
fault,  and,  having  made  her  rise,  led  her  to  the  chapel  of  the  novices, 
where,  after  reprimanding  her,  she  commanded  her  in  punishment  to 
remain  and  sleep  on  the  floor;  and  with  this  order  she  left  her,  returning 
shortly  after  to  examine  her  in  what  she  might  have  said  and  thought 
in  view  of  such  a  proceeding  ;  and  having  reason  to  judge  her  humiliated 
and  well-disposed,  she  permitted  her  to  return  to  her  bed.  A  girl  who 
was  on  probation  in  the  monastery  having  risen  one  morning  earlier 
than  usual,  because  she  was  desirous  of  attending  matin  with  the  nuns, 
was  noticed  by  the  Saint,  who  told  her  it  was  necessary  that  she  should 
ask  permission  of  the  mother  prioress,  which  she  obtained.  Never 
theless,  as  a  mistress  of  novices,  she  ordered  her  back  to  her  bed.  The 
girl  complied,  and,  having  hardly  lain  down,  Mary  Magdalen  told  her  in 
a  tone  of  satisfaction :  "  Dress  and  come  to  the  choir  with  us ;  I  have 
done  this  to  try  thy  obedience." 

She  was  also  wont  to  impose  a  penance  and  then  revoke  it  at  the 
moment  it  was  to  be  performed  being  satisfied  at  seeing  the  prompt  and 


spontaneous  acceptation  of  the  obedience,  for  which  she  absolutely  re 
quired  a  cheerful  disposition,  free  from  all  hesitation.  Therefore,  she  often 
repeated  to  her  young  charges  that  in  obeying  they  should  not  regard 
the  person  giving  the  order,  but  God  in  her,  and  her  they  should  simply 
obey  as  though  she  were  God  Himself;  u  because,"  she  would  say,  "  you 
did  not  give  up  your  will  to  the  creature,  but  to  God,  and  the  creature 
stands  there  to  you  in  God's  place;"  hence,  she  told  them  to  obey  the 
superioresses  that  were  assigned  to  them,  even  though  they  might  be 
lay-sisters,  and  even  if  it  was  a  question  of  things  contrary  to  their  judg 
ment,  being  persuaded  that  what  is  commanded  is  the  will  of  God.  She 
also  told  them  to  hold  humility  in  great  value,  as  through  it  wonders 
are  wrought;  which  in  fact  was  experienced  by  several  of  them,  and 
particularly  by  the  one  she  had  sent,  as  we  said  above,  to  learn  the 
exercise  of  prayer  from  the  trees  of  the  orchard.  She,  who  found  it  very 
difficult  to  pray,  by  means  of  this  obedience  acquired  so  much  facility 
and  pleasure  in  praying,  that  of  her  own  choice  she  would  not  have 
occupied  herself  in  anything  else  during  her  whole  life. 

To  a  novice  grievously  tempted  she  lent  her  girdle,  suggesting  to 
her  to  gird  herself  with  it ;  which  was  no  sooner  done  by  the  novice 
than  the  temptation  ceased.  She  was  wo  tit  to  say  to  all :  "  Until  you 
give  yourselves  into  the  hands  of  obedience  as  if  dead,  you  can  never 
taste  what  serving  God  is.  Offer  your  will  in  sacrifice  to  God,  and  you 
will  derive  therefrom  a  sovereign  consolation.  If  you  wish  to  comply 
with  the  Divine  Will,  beware  lest  by  persuasions  you  draw  the  will  of 
the  superiors  to  your  own  ;  but  try  to  execute,  simply  and  entirely,  their 
orders,  and  thus  will  you  arrive  at  a  great  perfection.  If  you  experience 
a  repugnance  to  break  your  will  for  the  sake  of  obedience,  you  show 
that  you  have  very  little  love  for  God,  as  you  do  not  wish  to  trouble 
yourself  in  the  one  thing  by  which  you  can  give  Him  sovereign  honor — 
namely,  submitting  to  the  will  of  others  for  His  love."  And  she  tried 
to  render  her  disciples  not  only  obedient  with  a  tranquil  submission,  but 
also  desirous  and  almost  famishing  for  the  yoke  of  obedience.  To  this 
end  she  imposed  on  them  that  they  should  never  do  even  the  least  thing 
without  her  permission  ;  and  as  she  could  not  always  be  with  them,  she 
assigned  to  each  of  them  a  companion,  of  whom,  in  her  absence,  they  were 
to  ask  permission ;  and  when  even  this  could  not  be  done,  they  were 
then  to  ask  permission  of  anyone  present,  and  never  to  do  anything 
without  some  submission  to  the  will  of  others.  By  accustoming  them 
selves  to  obey  in  small  things  they  facilitated  obedience  in  things  greater 
and  of  strict  obligation,  as  the  same  disciples  avowed  that  it  had  so 
happened  to  them.  She  reputed  as  blasphemy  on  the  lips  of  a  Reli 
gious :  I 'will  or  I 'will  not ;  so  that  if  any  of  her  subjects  uttered  these 
words,  she  immediately  punished  her,  and  with  inexorable  severity. 
Thus  removing  from  the  novitiate  every  attachment  to  self-will,  so 
inimical  to  our  true  welfare  and  that  of  a  community,  she  succeeded  in 
introducing  therein  those  virtues  which  are  the  precious  and  essential 
dowry  of  a  bride  of  Jesus  Christ. 

Two  facts  are  worth  relating  here,  as  evidence  to  prove  how  much 
light  and  power  God  was  giving  to  this,  his  beloved  servant,  that  she  might 
carry  souls  along  with  herself  to  the  highest  degree  of  spiritual  perfection. 

2io  THE   LIFE   AND  WORKS   OF 

On  the  9th  of  March,   1591,  her  eyes  assumed  an  expression  of 
sweetness  and  wonder  at  the  same  time,  in  her  countenance  the  divine 
flame  showed  which  was  burning  within  her  heart,  and  the  position  of 
her  body  indicated  that  she  was  rapt  in  ecstasy.     While  thus  alienated 
from   her   senses   she   manifested   the   sublimity   and  vastness   of  her 
intelligence,  drawn  by  compared  visions,  the  better  to  communicate 
them  to  others:  "  I  see,"  said  she  to  the  sisters,  "  a  column  of  the  most 
beautiful  porphyry,  the  size  of  which  is  such  that  ten  men  could  not 
embrace  it;  it  rests  on  a  base  of  the  finest  gold,  partly  covered,  and  at 
each  of  the  four  corners  there  is  a  canal.     In  the  column  many  precious 
stones  of  divers  qualities  and  colors  are  enchased  ;  and  likewise  I  see  four 
large  and  most  clear  mirrors,  and  many  others  below  them,  a  little 
smaller.     Three  very  beautiful  ropes  are  tied  to  the  column — one  of 
gold,    another   red,    and    the    last   of    silver — which    are    held    by   a 
great   many  Nazarites,   who    follow    this    column.     There   is   a  pilot, 
with  his   helpmate,  who  with  one  hand   holds  the  column,  and  with 
the  other  elevates  the  three  ropes  that  the  Nazarites  may  see  them ;  and 
the  coadjutor  holds  them  out  to  them,  not  the  three  of  them  at  a  time, 
but  first  one  and  then  another,  though  each  one  of  them  is  bound  to 
have  the  three  of  them.      Likewise  they  show  to  the  Nazarites  some  of 
the  mirrors,  but  only  as  they  proceed,  without  causing  them  to  stop. 
At  the  top  of  the  column  the  king  of  these  Nazarites  rests  his  hands  on 
said  column,  so  that  it  may  go  straight,  without  wavering.     There  is 
also  on   the  summit  a  crystal  gnomon  reaching  over  a  spring.     This 
column  is  led  by  a  bright  star,  which  fixes  one  of  its  rays  upon  it,  till  it 
reaches  the  city  of  Jerusalem,  where  it  has  to  stop.     It  is  also  accom 
panied  by  seven  very  beautiful  trees,  on  which  rest  many  little  birds, 
giving  great  delight  by  their  singing  to  the  traveling  Nazarites.      Some 
of  these  Nazarites  throw  darts  against  the  column,  but  as  this  is  of 
porphyry,  they  mark  it,  but  only  break  off  some  of  the  precious  stones 
enchased  in  the  same.     Some  try  to  unravel  those  three  very  worthy 
ropes,  and  others  to  stain  and  soil  them.     Among  these  Nazarites  there 
is  one  holding  in  his  hand  a  little  bell,  continually  ringing  it,  and  more 
strongly  when  the  others  wish  to  go  to  sleep.     There  are  others  also  who 
hold  little  bells,  but  do  not  ring  them.     Now  behold  the  explanation  of 
this:     The  column  signifies  our  Religion;  the  golden  base  on  which  it 
rests  signifies  that  it  is  founded  on  charity ;   its  being  partly  covered 
denotes  that  our  Religion  tends  more  properly  to  the  interior  perfection 
than  to  outward  penance   and  exterior  practices.     The  four  canals  at 
the  four  corners  of  the  base,  and  from  which  issue  divers  liquors,  are  four 
great  gifts,  benefits,  or  tastes  which  are  to  be  found  in  the  Religious  state. 
From  the  first  canal  issues  the  best  wine,  which  is  the  union  with  God, 
as  Religion  is  the  most  suitable  and  easy  place  to  unite  ourselves  with 
God ;  and  this  union  inebriates  the  soul  and  makes  her  one  with  her 
loving  Spouse  Jesus.     From  the  second  canal  issues  water,  which  sig 
nifies  that  the  Religious  partake  in  a  more  particular  and  continuous 
manner  of  all  the  goods  of  Holy  Church  ;  and  at  this  canal  those  drink 
who  thirst  after  justice.     From  -the  third  canal  oil  issues,  by  means  of 
which  the  Religious,  according  to  the  saying  of  the  prophet,  becomes  by 
participation  as  another  God  on  earth,  for  he  tastes  and  feels  within  himself 


that  interior  peace  that  the  Word  Incarnate  once  felt  here  below  ;  hence 
as  it  was  a  glory  for  the  Word  to  suffer,  nay,  He  wished  for  nothing  but 
this,  and  for  this  He  was  made  flesh,  likewise  the  perfect  Religious 
regards  it  as  his  glory  to  suffer  and  to  be  despised,  so  that  on  being 
assailed  by  temptations,  distress,  and  vexations  he  does  not  become 
disturbed  in  the  least  degree,  nor  permits  himself  to  be  robbed  of  his 
quietness  and  interior  peace,  as  he  had  already  adopted  the  above-men 
tioned  things  for  his  glory,  and  wishes  and  craves  for  nothing  else. 
From  the  fourth  and  last  canal  issues  forth  a  very  odoriferous  balm, 
which  denotes  the  fourth  gift  which  is  found  in  the  Religions,  viz.,  the 
counsels  and  the  help  which  are  given  to  us  by  the  superiors ;  and  this 
balm  anoints  only  those  who  are  dead  to  themselves,  in  the  same  manner 
that  the  material  balm  ordinarily  is  only  used  upon  dead  bodies,  but  when 
employed  for  the  living  it  is  generally  used  to  anoint  one  of  the  limbs, 
never  the  whole  body.  Thus  then  it  happens  in  the  Religion,  that 
he  who  is  not  dead  to  his  own  will,  judgment,  and  understanding  does 
not  avail  himself  of  the  fruit  of  the  counsels  and  help  of  the  superiors, 
as  he  believes  in  himself  much  more  than  he  does  in  them.  The  various 
precious  stones  signify  the  virtues  which  shine  in  our  Rule  and  Consti 
tution.  The  four  principal  mirrors  are  the  four  principal  Saints  of  our 
Religion,  viz.,  St.  Eliseus,  St.  Angelus,  St.  Albert,  and  St.  Cyril,  and 
the  smaller  ones  denote  the  other  Saints  and  blessed  souls  of  our  Order. 
The  three  ropes  which  are  attached  to  the  column  are  the  three  vows: 
that  of  obedience,  represented  by  the  golden  one,  that  of  poverty  by  the 
red,  and  that  of  chastity  by  the  silver.  The  Nazarites  who  hold  the 
ropes  in  their  hands  are  all  of  us  who  promised  to  the  Lord  and 
made  a  solemn  profession  to  keep  the  above  three  vows.  The  pilot 
of  the  Nazarites,  who  with  one  hand  holds  the  column  and  with 
the  other  elevates  the  three  ropes,  is  the  superioress  who  directs  us,  and 
who  must  in  everything  she  has  to  do,  treat  and  order,  always  keep  the 
Rule  in  her  hands,  viz.,  she  must  see  that  all  she  orders  is  in  conformity 
with  our  Rule  and  Constitution,  never  departing  from  it  in  the  least ; 
moreover,  she  must  teach  her  subjects  by  her  example  the  observance  of 
the  three  vows ;  and  yet  she  trains  her  subjects,  now  in  the  observance 
of  one  and  now  of  the  other,  because,  if  she  wanted  to  exercise  them  in 
the  three  at  the  same  time,  she  would  not  be  acting  as  charity  and  com 
passion  require  her  to  act.  She  must,  therefore,  have  grace  and  light 
from  God  in  order  to  know  well  how  to  discern  the  nature,  the  tendencies, 
and  the  spirit  of  each,  so  as  to  assign  the  occupations  convenient  to  each 
particular  case  ;  for  instance,  in  time  of  sickness,  it  is  necessary  to  with 
draw  the  rope  of  poverty,  in  regard  to  the  actual  practice  of  it,  and  to 
consign  the  rope  of  obedience,  by  which  one  may  peacefully  submit  to 
the  pains  of  sickness.  To  the  young  nuns  and  the  beginners  who  are 
not  yet  well  established  in  the  way  of  perfection,  she  ought  also  to  hand 
the  rope  of  obedience,  and  so  she  changes  them  from  time  to  time,  as  she 
may  deem  necessary,  though  each  of  them  must  of  herself  fulfill  the  three 
vows.  The  superioresses  also  point  out  to  their  subjects  those  mirrors 
which  are  enchased  in  the  column,  but  this  they  do  as  they  walk  along 
without  causing  them  to  stop; — and  this  means  that  they  must  excite 
them  to  imitate  the  lives  of  the  Saints,  but  without  obstructing  the 

2!  2  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

interior  vocation  to  which  God  called  them.     The  king  of  these  Nazarites, 
who  keeps  his  hands  on  the  column  that  it  may  proceed  straightforward, 
is  the  spiritual  father,  who  must  be  always  watching  and  see  that  we 
continually  and  perfectly  fulfill  the  Rule.     The  crystal  gnomon,  which  is 
at  the  summit  of  the  column  and  reaches  a  fount  near  by,  indicates  the 
doctrine  which  is  embodied  in  the  Rule,  and  which  aims  at  nothing  else 
but  the  union  with  God,  signified  by  the  rotundity  of  the  gnomon.     The 
fount  is  the  Eucharistic  Sacrament,  it  being  the  surest  and  most  effica 
cious  means  to  employ  in  order  that  we  may  live  united  to  God.     The 
star  which  guides  said  column  is  the  Blessed  Virgin,  our  Mother  and 
protectress,  to  whom  our  Rule  is  dedicated,  and  who,  by  her  special  pro 
tection  and  grace,  assists  us  to  advance  towards  the  heavenly  Jerusalem, 
where  we  shall  finally  stop  and  dwell,  if  we  shall  have  perfectly  fulfilled 
our  holy  Rule  and  Constitution.     The  seven  Trees  which  accompany 
this  column  are  the  seven  Gifts  of  the  Holy  Ghost ;  the  birds  singing  on 
these  Trees  with  sweet  melody  are  the  fruits  of  the  same  Holy  Ghost. 
The  Nazarites  throwing  darts  against  the  column  are  those  who  find 
fault  with  and  murmur  against  the  Rule  and  the  Constitution,  it  seeming 
to  them  as  if  it  were  either  too  austere  or  not  ordained  as  they  would 
prefer  ;  but  their  throwing  of  darts  cannot  hurt  said  Rule,  as  it  cannot 
detract  even  the  least  particle  from  its  interior  spiritual  greatness  and 
perfection.     By  these  faults  they  blunt  some  of  those  stones  that  are 
joined  to  the  column,  as  these  murmurs  being  heard  by  imperfect  persons 
who  are  not  constant  in  doing  good,  they  pour  into  their  soul  a  similar 
opinion  and  easily  fasten  it  therein  ;  and  for  this  reason,  as  far  as  they 
are  concerned,  .they  detract  some  exterior  beauty  from  the  virtues  and 
from  the  perfection  which  our  holy  Religion  teaches  us  and  binds  us  to 
practice.     As  to  those  Nazarites  who  try  to  unravel  the  three  beautiful 
ropes,  they  represent  those  sisters  who  willfully  break  the  three  vows 
and  shun  the  practices  and  toils  of  the  Religion.     The  others  who  stain 
and  soil  those  most  worthy  ropes  are  those  Religious  who  do  not  per 
fectly  observe  the  promises  they  have  made  to  the  Lord,  so  that  if  any 
thing  is  enjoined  on  them  by  obedience,  they  do  not  execute  it  with 
spiritual  promptitude,  humility,  and  the  other  conditions  required  of 
truly  obedient  persons.     They  stain  the  vow  of  poverty  when  they  wish 
to  have  more  than  is  given  to  them  by  the  Religion  (Religious  Order), 
instead  of  glorying  in  poverty  and  in  suffering  for  the  love  of  Christ 
Crucified.     They  stain  and  soil  the  vow  of  chastity  when  they  do  not 
guard  their  heart,  thoughts,  desires,  and  words  as  the  most  delicate  per 
fection  of  this  vow  requires.     The  Nazarites  who  have  the  bell  in  their 
hands,  and  ring  it  not,  are  those  who  have  the  knowledge  of  God  but 
do  not  use  it  in  behalf  of  their  neighbors.     (She  not  having  announced 
who  was  the  Nazarite  who  was  ringing  the  bell  continually,  the  nuns 
rightly  interpreted  that  she  was  herself,  the  venerable  mother,  so  zealous 
of  the  spiritual  advancement  of  others,  who  was  now  hiding  her  own 
name  under  the  veil  of  humility.)     The  Nasarites  walking  behind  the 
column  hear  the  disagreeable  singing  of  a  bird ;  but  tho.^e  who  are  deter 
mined  to  continue  their  journey  with  alacrity  pass  on  as  if  they  were 
deaf,  which  signifies  the  discipline  of  the   Religion,  which  gives  no 
delight  to  the  sensitive  part  of  the  flesh  ;  but  we  must  be  as  deaf  to  it, 


nay,  try  to  attain  to  such  a  perfection,  that  whatever  displeases  our 
senses  may  be  our  glory  and  delight,  and  with  the  spirit  we  must  con 
quer  our  flesh  and  its  appetites.  I  see  the  king  of  these  Nazarites  who 
sometimes  lifts  up  his  hands  to  heaven,  in  order  that  receiving  some 
dew  he  may  moisten  the  heads  of  these  Nazarites.  This  is  our  Rev.  Father 
Confessor  who,  elevating  the  powers  of  his  soul  to  God,  has  them  filled 
up  by  God  with  grace,  light,  and  virtue  ;  and  then,  by  his  preaching, 
exhortations,  and  advice,  he  communicates  these  to  us,  leading  us  through 
the  road  of  perfection.  But  we  must  keep  our  heads  uncovered  to  feel 
this  dew — that  is,  we  must  preserve  our  minds  pure  and  free  from  vain 
and  useless  thoughts.  Whilst  journeying  to  perfection,  by  night  we 
must  go  with  our  heads  erect  and  our  eyes  turned  to  heaven,  and  by 
day  with  our  heads  down  and  our  eyes  fixed  upon  the  ground — that  is, 
when  the  soul  finds  herself  in  the  night  of  tribulation  and  toil,  she  must 
turn  to  God,  and  trust  only  in  Him,  resting  and  fixing  all  her  thoughts 
and  affections  in  His  providence.  As  to  daytime — that  is,  during  pros 
perity — the  soul  must  humble  and  annihilate  herself  so  as  to  become 
convinced  of  being  a  mere  nothing  and  undeserving  that  God  should  so 
long  tolerate  her  upon  the  earth.  The  Nazarites  also,  like  their  king, 
must  often  lift  their  hands  up  to  heaven  to  receive  the  dew  and  refresh 
themselves  with  it.  For  whilst  we  are  in  this  miserable  life,  preparing 
for  the  celestial  and  blessed  one,  we  must  elevate  our  soul  to  God  by  con 
tinual  meditation  and  contemplation,  in  which  the  intellect  is  enlight 
ened,  and  the  will  is  inflamed  and  made  to  burn  with  divine  love.  This 
cools  the  fire  of  sensuality  in  the  soul,  and  makes  her  fly  up  the  road  of 
perfection,  rendering  sweet  and  palatable  whatever  bitterness  may  have 
to  be  tasted  for  the  love  of  her  amiable  Spouse,  Jesus  Crucified." 

On  the  first  day  of  Pentecost,  1 604,  having  been  already  alienated  from 
her  senses  for  several  hours,  with  the  strongest  enthusiasm  of  celestial 
affection,  among  many  and  wonderful  things,  she  said :  "  This  Divine 
vSpirit  is  love  and  asks  for  love,  and  rests  not  in  those  hearts  that  love 
Him  not,  and  do  not  love  purely  for  God.  .  .  .  There  are  many  souls 
making  nothing  but  little  bundles  of  hay  and  straw.  Few  are  they  that 
work  precious  stones  and  embrace  strong  columns.  These  bundles  of 
straw  and  hay  are  good  for  nothing  except  to  burn ;  and  when  burning, 
they  make  a  very  light  fire,  which  quickly  disappears,  leaving  soot  and 
smoke,  but  the  stones  are  of  infinite  value  and  enrich  those  who  possess 
them  ;  the  columns  support  the  high  buildings  and  those  who  embrace 
them.  The  bundles  of  straw  indicate  those  persons  who  attend  to  the  per 
formance  of  many  manual  works  with  vanity  and  for  human  ends.  .  .  . 
There  are  many  persons  working  all  their  lives,  but,  as  they  do  not  work 
for  God,  they  derive  therefrom  nothing  more  than  a  light  splendor  of 
human  glory,  which  soon  passes  away,  leaving  their  hearts  full  of  regret 
and  pain,  and  they  find  no  reward  for  it  in  the  next  life.  The  Divine 
Spirit  rests  but  little  in  these  persons  ;  but  He  comes  down  in  great  full 
ness  and  rests  in  those  souls  that  work  precious  stones  of  solid  and  real 
virtues,  of  humility,  despisement  of  self  and  everything  created,  poverty, 
purity,  and  resignation  of  their  will  to  God  and  the  superiors.  .  .  . 
The  souls  embracing  strong  columns  are  governed  by  them,  and  their 
edifice  will  never  shake  or  fall ;  for,  when  working  for  God  with  purity 

2 14  THE   UFE   AND   WORKS  OF 

of  intention,  neither  tribulation,  nor  distress,  nor  any  creature  can  ever 
overthrow  their  constancy,  as  they  are  strengthened  by  the  Divine  Spirit 
and  their  operations  remain  forever,  because  they  are  founded  on  the 
Divine  Truth."  Turning  to  the  novices  when  she  was  their  mistress, 
she  used  to  say  to  them  with  great  emphasis  :  "  Do  not  make  bundles  of 
straw,  but  enrich  yourselves  with  these  valuable  stones,  embrace  the 
strong  pillars,  if  you  wish  the  Divine  Spirit  to  rest  in  you."  And, 
having  been  silent  for  a  while,  she  added:  "  This  Divine  Love  and  pure 
Spirit  will  not  rest  by  any  means  in  those  souls  that  possess  cutting 
tongues,  as  He  hates  and  very  much  abhors  a  backbiting  tongue,  and 
departs  and  flees  from  it.  It  is  true  that  this  Divine  Spirit  comes  down, 
for,  being  communicative,  He  would  like  to  give  Himself  to  all ;  but  He 
does  not  stop,  not  knowing  where  to  rest.  He  rests  for  a  moment  in 
those  souls  that  make  bundles  of  straw,  but  He  does  not  stop  at  all  where 
there  are  cutting  tongues."  Here,  with  a  louder  voice,  she  would  say: 
"  Harm  not  thy  neighbor,  as  God  commanded  that  we  should  love  him 
as  ourselves,  and  it  is  too  great  an  evil  to  touch  him.  He  is  the  pupil 
of  God's  eye;  and  the  eye  is  so  delicate  an  organ  that  the  least  wisp  of 
straw  offends  it.  He  who  offends  his  neighbor  offends  God.  Of  the 
neighbor's  faults  we  cannot,  we  must  not  speak,  except  with  the  intention 
of  doing  him  good,  and  with  those  who  can  remedy  the  evil ;  whatever 
else  is  spoken  of  is  murmuring.  ...  I  would  like  to  be  able  to  go 
throughout  the  whole  world  and  get  all  the  souls  into  my  hands,  and  I 
would  exert  myself  so  much  with  the  divine  help  that  I  would  root  out  all 
these  biting  teeth.  Ah !  if  creatures  could  see  and  understand  fully  how 
much  God  hates  these  tongues  with  teeth  no  one  would  be  found  that 
would  dare  to  murmur.  If  God  hates  murmuring  in  every  creature,  He 
cannot,  He  will  not,  tolerate  it  at  all  in  the  Religious  and  Spouses  con 
secrated  to  Him.  Some  Religions  (Religious  Orders)  are  like  well-cul 
tivated  gardens  decked  out  with  beautiful  trees,  odoriferous  flowers,  and 
leafy  plants,  on  account  of  the  exact  observance  and  the  beautiful  order 
that  are  found  therein.  Other  Religious  Orders  are  like  ugly  forests 
compared  to  the  former,  because  in  them  there  is  no  order  of  religious 
observance;  nevertheless,  in  these  the  Divine  Spirit  rests  a  little,  as 
there  are  no  murmuring  tongues  there;  and,  on  the  contrary,  He  comes 
to  the  others  and  passes  on  without  stopping,  because  the  spirit  of 
hypocrisy  which  dominates  them,  rather  than  truth,  leads  them  fre 
quently  to  the  vice  of  backbiting.  But  woe,  woe  to  them"  (she  used 
to  say  still  louder)  "because God  will  permit  the  light  they  possess  to  be 
turned  into  darkness,  if  they  do  not  pull  out  these  teeth,  and  He  will 
give  His  light  to  other  Religions.  O  perverse  tongues,  what  wonder  of 
iniquity  are  you,  that  you  suffice  to  overthrow  all  the  good  of  a  Religion  ! 
O  my  souls"  (she  used  also  to  say  to  the  novices)  "beware  of  putting  on 
these  teeth,  and  thank  Divine  Goodness  that  at  present  not  one  among 
you  is  stained  with  this  vice."  Progressing  with  her  deep  contemplation, 
the  Saint  so  penetrated  the  mystery  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity  that,  over 
come  by  feelings  of  amazement,  she  was  wont  to  repeat:  " Incompre 
hensible  God!  .  .  .  eternal  is  Thy  greatness,  .  .  .  ineffable  is  Thy 
goodness.  ...  I  see,  and  I  see  with  complacency,  the  three  Divine 
Persons  imparting  to  one  another  their  divine  influxes  in  an  ineffable 


and  inscrutable  manner.  The  Father  flows  into  the  Son,  the  Son  into 
the  Father,  and  the  Father  and  the  Son  into  the  Holy  Ghost ;  the  Holy 
Ghost  flows  in  a  manner  which  it  is  impossible  for  us  to  understand. 
Eternal  God,  Thou  art  ineffably  good ;  and,  by  Thy  goodness,  Thou  dost 
impart  to  the  creature  immersed  in  the  knowledge  of  her  nothingness  some 
knowledge  of  Thy  eternal  being ;  but,  even  granted  that  this  communi 
cation  is  wonderful,  yet  it  may  be  said  with  truth  that  it  is  as  a  mere 
no  thing  compared  to  that  which  passes  bet  ween  God  and  His  creature.  .  .  . 
The  three  Divine  Persons  communicate  their  divine  influxes  to  all  the 
blessed  in  heaven ;  and  the  blessed  return  their  influxes  into  the  Father, 
the  Son,  and  the  Holy  Ghost,  with  their  praise  and  thanksgiving,  mag 
nifying,  blessing,  and  exalting  continually  and  without  ceasing  the  Most 
Holy  Trinity.  The  three  Divine  Persons  communicate  their  influxes 
also  to  the  creatures  of  this  world,  and  the  Word  Incarnate  does  it  by 
sending  gifts  and  graces  to  them,  that  they  may  so  dispose  themselves 
that  all  the  Most  Holy  Trinity  may  be  well  pleased  in  them.  ...  I  see 
the  Father  aspiring  to  the  salvation  of  the  same  creatures  ;  I  see  the  Son 
breathing  in  them,  and  the  Holy  Ghost  inspiring  the  aspiration  of  the 
Father,  which  is  like  an  ardent  wish  for  the  salvation  of  creatures.  The 
breathing  of  the  Son  is  like  a  rest  He  takes  in  the  soul,  making  the 
creature  look  up  to  God  the  Father.  The  inspiration  of  the  Holy  Ghost 
is  like  the  enlightening  which  He  gives  that  the  soul  may  go  on  from 
virtue  to  virtue  till  Deus  deorum  in  Sion  may  be  seen.  This  is  the 
wonderful  work  the  Most  Holy  Trinity  continually  performs  in  the 
creature.  .  .  .  The  Most  Holy  Trinity  communicates  its  influx  in  a  most 
special  manner  to  the  Religious,  but  in  so  different  a  manner  that  I  feel 
amazed  at  it,  because  some  receive  more  and  some  less,  and  with  such  a 
difference  between  one  and  the  other  that  I  would  never  have  thought  it  to 
be  so."  Being  filled  with  this  feeling  of  wonder,  it  seemed  to  her  as  if  she 
saw  the  soul  of  a  Religious  not  receiving  these  divine  influxes,  having 
rendered  herself  unworthy  of  them  by  being  willing  to  remain  in  mortal 
sin.  Therefore,  many  devils  bound  her  with  horrible  chains,  and,  with 
insults  and  contempt,  led  her  to  the  place  of  eternal  torments  ;  at  which 
sight  Mary  Magdalen  wept  for  grief,  sighed  with  convulsive  agitation, 
and,  emitting  plaintive  and  strong  cries,  said  :  "  Unhappy  soul,  and  who 
would  have  believed  it  that  thou  with  obstinate  will  wouldst  not  only 
live,  but  also  die,  in  mortal  sin  !  "  She  was  so  frightened  at  it  that  for 
two  whole  days  she  was  in  great  anguish  and  terror.  Finally  she  under 
stood  that  the  devils  acquire  great  power  over  those  Religious  who 
through  their  own  fault  do  not  receive  these  influxes,  thereby  becoming 
a  source  of  great  scandal  in  their  Congregation  and  of  serious  ruin  to  it. 
As  God  for  the  sake  of  a  good  person  sends  many  favors  to  a  place,  so 
also,  on  account  of  a  bad  person,  He  permits  many  evils  and  losses  to 
befall  another  place.  Hence  she  recommended  the  most  rigid  perspicuity 
when  it  was  a  question  of  admitting  a  person  to  the  religious  state,  and 
that  all  possible  zeal  and  care  should  be  used  to  lead  such  person  rightly 
to  the  road  of  perfection.  When  God  calls  anyone  to  Religion,  He  desires 
that,  in  saving  and  perfecting  his  own  soul,  others  also  may  be  led  to 
the  haven  of  salvation,  both  by  example  and  exhortations. 





»D  assisted  Mary  Magdalen  with  a  gift  which  helped  her 
very  much  in  the  various  and  wonderful  ways  she  employed 
in  the  spiritual  direction  of  her  subjects,  which  have  been 
described  more  at  length  than  it  was  at  first  intended  in  the 
preceding  chapter.  This  gift  consisted  in  enabling  her  to 
penetrate  the  secrets  of  others'  spirits,  which  we  have  already 
seen  manifesting  itself  in  several  cases.  We  will  here  relate 
in  particular  those  which  came  under  the  observation  of  her 
young  girls  and  novices,  and  which  have  been  by  them  testified  to  in 
the  processes. 

One  day  whilst  Mary  Magdalen  was  at  work  with  her  novices,  she 
saw  in  the  heart  of  one  of  them  a  fault  or  imperfection  which  was  greatly 
displeasing  to  God,  and  of  which  the  novice  having  no  knowledge  had 
not  spoken  to  the  mother  or  the  others.  She  saw  that  such  a  fault  was 
rooted  in  the  heart  of  that  girl  like  a  juniper  tree  (so  it  presented  itself  to 
the  imagination  of  Mary  Magdalen),  and  she  said  that  the  Guardian 
Angel  of  this  novice  was  trying  to  uproot  it  from  her  heart,  but  could 
not  succeed,  as  some  devils  prevented  him.  Hence  the  holy  mother, 
enkindled  with  zeal,  arose  suddenly  from  her  seat,  and,  taking  the  novice 
by  the  arm,  led  her  to  the  oratory  of  the  novitiate,  and  there,  being  rapt 
in  ecstasy,  began  to  strike  her  with  the  discipline,  so  as  to  humble  her 
spirit  rather  than  inflict  pain  on  her  body,  saying  at  the  same  time  to  the 
devils:  "Depart  from  her,  ye  evil  ones,  and  leave  this  soul."  The 
novice,  between  the  surprise  and  the  humiliation,  burst  into  tears,  and 
the  mother,  having  known  her  to  be  well  disposed  towards  docility, 
manifested  to  her  the  fault  which  had  taken  root  in  her  interior,  and 
thus  enlightening  her  wrought  also  her  amendment. 

Another  novice  had  kept  a  temptation  for  five  months  hidden  in 
her  heart  and  would  not  confess  it.  God  manifested  it  to  our  holy 
mistress,  who,  calling  the  novice  to  her  and  reprimanding  her,  spoke 
openly  to  her  concerning  her  temptation.  She  then  impressively  told 
her  to  beware  in  future  lest  she  should  keep  anything  hidden,  and  to 
consider  it  a  strict  obligation  to  confess  to  the  mistress  whatever  passed 
through  her  mind. 

She  obtains  from  God  that  the  spoiled  wine  in  a  keg  in  the 
monastery  become  good  (page  158). 



One  evening,  whilst  reciting  compline  in  the  choir,  another  of  her 
disciples  was  troubled  by  strong  temptations  against  her  own  vocation. 
The  Saint,  whose  place  it  was  then  to  sprinkle  the  sisters  with  holy 
water,  when  she  turned  to  bless  this  young  lady,  made  all  temptations 
disappear  from  her  troubled  soul,  leaving  her  in  the  most  complete  tran 
quillity.  The  young  lady  being  amazed  at  this  sudden  result,  and 
believing  at  the  same  time  that  the  Saint  had  been  the  benign  cause  of 
it,  asked  her  for  an  explanation,  and  Mary  Magdalen  answered  that 
Jesus  Christ  had  truly  manifested  to  her  the  agitation  of  her  heart,  and 
that  in  blessing  her,  she  prayed  to  God  that  He  might  deliver  her  from 
those  temptations. 

The  mistress  of  the  young  girls  had  a  disciple  who  was  very  much 
afflicted ;  and  being  unable  to  find  any  way  of  giving  her  rest,  she 
recommended  her  one  day  to  the  charity  of  our  Saint,  then  mistress  of 
novices,  that  she  might  help  her  to  that  end.  Whilst  Mary  Magdalen 
was  lending  herself  to  the  charitable  office  with  all  the  zeal  of  which  she 
was  capable,  one  of  her  novices  having  come  to  speak  to  her,  and  being 
unable  to  do  so,  murmured  within  herself,  without  giving  any  exterior 
sign  of  it,  these  words  of  impatience:  "  It  is  not  enough  for  that  girl  to 
have  her  own  mistress,  but  she  must  come  and  take  ours  away."  The 
Saint,  who,  on  coming  out  of  the  young  girl's  cell,  found  her  own  novice 
on  the  threshold,  reproached  her  for  this  murmuring,  and  added : 
"  When  thou  shalt  be  afflicted  and  tempted,  I  shall  help  thee,  too,  even 
though  I  shall  not  then  be  thy  mother  mistress."  Hence,  the  novice, 
full  of  confusion,  humbly  and  sincerely  begged  forgiveness  from  so 
zealous  and  enlightened  a  mistress. 

The  sense  of  pride  was  troubling  the  spirit  of  one  of  her  novices, 
and,  what  is  worse,  she  studied  very  carefully  to  hide  it.  One  morning, 
when  she  was  about  entering  the  choir,  Magdalen  said  :  "Ave  Maria"— 
this  being  the  usual  answer  of  respect  and  devotion  when  anyone  was 
called.  This  novice  who  was  near  her,  said  :  "  Mother  mistress,  nobody 
calls  thee."  To  this,  «the  Saint  answered:  "Come  with  me."  And, 
having  led  her  apart,  she  bitterly  reprimanded  her  for  permitting  herself 
to  be  so  much  troubled  by  pride,  adding  that  St.  Catherine  of  Siena  had 
suggested  to  her  not  to  let  her  come  into  the  choir  whilst  she  remained 
in  so  improper  a  disposition,  without  first  imposing  a  penance  on  her; 
which  having  been  done  by  the  mother,  the  novice  humbled  herself,  and 
in  the  future  did  all  she  could  in  order  to  be  ingenuous  and  tranquil. 

One  of  her  disciples,  whilst  reciting  the  Divine  Office  with  her, 
was  assailed  by  strange  thoughts  and  temptations;  but  all  this  was 
interior,  and  she  gave  no  exterior  sign  of  it.  Nevertheless,  the  Saint 
knew  it,  and,  fixing  her  eyes  upon  her,  said  to  her  rather  severely :  "  When 
'done  with  this  office,  we  shall  have  to  call  the  chapter;"  and,  in  fact, 
she  made  her  afterwards  humble  herself  in  the  presence  of  the  other 
novices,  manifesting  how,  not  without  some  fault,  she  had  had  her 
attention  distracted  from  the  Divine  Office. 

A  novice  was  doing  what  the  Saint  had  imposed  on  her  through 
obedience,  which  was  to  draw  daily  some  pails  of  water  from  the  well. 
She  thought  one  day  that  it  would  be  better  to  pour  out  that  water  into 
the  trough,  to  be  used  to  water  the  orchard ;  but,  without  following  this 


contrary  thought,  she  did  her  duty  as  usual.  Having  returned  to  the 
novitiate,  the  Saint  asked  her  immediately  whether  she  had  done  her 
duty,  alluding  to  obedience,  and  on  the  novice's  answering  Yes,  the  mother 
added  :  "  It  would  have  been  better  to  throw  the  water  into  the  trough. 
Is  it  not  true?"  The  novice  blushed  like  a  child  caught  in  a  fault, 
and,  bowing  her  head,  confessed  her  thought.  Then  Mary  Magdalen 
told  her  to  learn  blind  obedience,  which  leaves  no  room  for  human 
prudence.  It  is  not  the  deed  which  gives  value  to  obedience ;  but  it  is 
obedience  itself  which  raises  any  work  to  a  degree  of  sovereign  value, 
though  the  work  may  be  of  the  humblest  and  even  opposed  to  reason. 

It  also  happened  to  this  novice  that  out  of  her  own  caprice,  without 
consulting  anybody,  she  girded  her  body  with  a  knotty  rope.  A  few  days 
after  she  had  first  worn  it,  the  Saint  one  evening  went  to  her  bedside 
and  frankly  told  her :  "  Sister,  see  what  thou  dost,  as  thou  dost  not  do 
the  will  of  God. "  The  novice,  not  understanding  what  the  holy  mistress 
meant,  answered  with  an  air  of  surprise  :  "  What  dost  thou  speak  of?  " 
And  the  mother  :  "  Of  that  rope  which  thou  wearest ;  take  it  off  and 
give  it  to  me."  The  novice  obeyed  and  thanked  God  who  gave  so  much 
light  to  the  directress  of  her  spirit. 

Another  novice  entertained  some  feelings  of  contempt  (without  ever 
having  given  any  exterior- sign  thereof)  against  one  of  her  companions 
who  appeared  to  her  faulty  in  manners  and  disposition.  The  Saint  having 
perceived  this,  said  to  her  unexpectedly  :  "My  sister,  if  that  companion 
of  thine  does  not  possess  all  the  exterior  qualities  thou  thinkest  she  should 
possess — ^Ipse  fecit  nos,  et  non  ipsi  nos^  — l  He  made  us,  and  not  we  our 
selves'  (Ps.  xcix,  3).  God  made  us  and  formed  us  according  to  His 
liking,  and  we  are  not  our  own  makers,  that  we  may  be  reproached  for 
having  one  nature  rather  than  another."  Through  these  words  the 
novice  corrected  her  own  moral  fault,  shutting  her  eyes  to  the  innocent 
faults  of  her  companion,  and  opening  her  heart  to  an  affectionate  esteem 
for  her. 

A  nun  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen's  monastery 'was  troubled  interiorly 
by  a  serious  thought  and  lacked  the  courage  to  manifest  it  to  anybody, 
only  praying  God  with  constant  fervor  that  He  might  vouchsafe  to 
deliver  her  from  it.  One  day  the  Saint,  being  in  ecstasy,  said  to  this 
sister:  "  Jesus  intends  to  grant  thee  the  grace  thou  desirest."  A  few 
days  afterwards  meeting  her  in  a  corridor,  the  Saint  called  her  aside  and 
said  to  her  :  ( ( The  thing  thou  askest  of  God  is  this  "...  (manifesting 
to  her  exactly  the  hidden  thought  which  tormented  her) ;  .  .  .  u  but  thou 
placest  this  impediment"  .  .  .  (which  also  was  by  the  Saint  manifested). 
The  nun  acknowledged  the  truth  of  all,  removed  the  obstacle,  and 
obtained  the  grace  so  much  wished  for. 

On  account  of  the  narrowness  of  the  choir,  the  novices  were  com 
pelled  to  remain  out  of  it.  One  day  one  of  them  felt  a  great  desire  to 
enter  it  to  recite  the  office  with  the  nuns ;  but  she  dared  not  speak  of  it 
to  anyone.  The  Saint  saw  in  spirit  the  desire  of  this  young  girl;  and 
being  in  the  choir,  left  her  place,  went  to  her,  and  led  her  to  the  choir, 
where  she  remained  to  her  great  delight  and  wondering  how  the  mother 
could  have  come  to  the  knowledge  of  her  hidden  wish. 

At  another  time  it  happened  that  this  same  sister  having  to  assist 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  319 

the  holy  mother  in  her  last  sickness,  was  unwilling  to  do  it,  fearing 
that  death  might  overtake  her  whilst  she  was  alone  with  her  at  that 
moment.  With  this  fear  wholly  interior  she  went  to  the  bedside  of  the 
Saint,  who  immediately  uttered  these  words,  which  at  once  show  the 
gift  of  prophecy  and  that  of  searching  hearts,  with  which  she  was 
endowed:  "Sister  Angela  Catherine"  (said  she  to  this  sister,  whose 
name  was  such),  "come  cheerfully  along;  for  when  I  shall  die,  all  the 
nuns  will  be  present. n  So  in  fact  it  happened  at  the  time  when  the 
happy  passage  of  our  glorious  mother  took  place. 

What  she  chiefly  discerned,  however,  in  the  interior  of  others,  was 
whether  anyone  humbled  herself  truly  or  not ;  hence,  no  matter  how 
much  one  tried  to  simulate  the  interior  disposition,  the  venerable  mother 
was  never  deceived,  neither  did  she  rest  satisfied  with  exterior  humilia 
tions.  To  one  who  through  human  respect  had  asked  her  to  impose 
some  such  mortification  upon  her,  she  said  that  God  does  not  value  those 
sacrifices,  but  rather  prefers  purity  of  heart  and  rectitude  of  intention. 
Another  who  under  the  appearance  of  humility  came  to  her  to  justify 
herself  by  blaming  a  companion,  she  no  sooner  saw  than  she  said  to  her 
these  plain  words :  "  Sister,  if  thou  art  silent  with  thy  mouth,  be  also 
silent  with  thy  heart ;  and  keep  to  thyself  what  thou  wishest  to  say  to 
me."  The  evidence  of  these  facts  dispenses  us  from  further  demonstrat 
ing  to  what  a  degree  God  enlightened  the  mind  of  Mary  Magdalen.  It 
gives  us  also  an  idea  of  how  much  the  young  girls  committed  to  her 
care,  being  continually  called  to  keep  a  strict  watch  over  their  hearts, 
could  profit  in  regard  to  their  spiritual  perfection  and  eternal  salvation. 





\OMINIS  officium  est  homini cuivis  benefacere — "It  is  man's 
own  duty  to  do  good  to  every  man,"  said  Terence.  "  Beware 
of  doing  to  others  what  thou  wishest  not  done  to  thee," 
said  Aristotle.  "  Respect  thy  image  in  thy  neighbor ;  by 
injuring  it,  thou  injurest  thyself,"  thus  said  Cato.  "  No 
body  does  harm  to  himself  by  benefiting  others,"  thus  said 
Seneca.  And  many  others,  though  idolaters,  used  the  same 
language  about  the  duties  we  owe  to  our  neighbor.  Truth 
has  said :  '''•What  thou  wouldst  that  men  do  to  thee,  do  thou,  to  them  like- 
wise  "  (Matth.  vii,  1 2).  This  truth  is  the  light  infused  by  the  Creator  into 
the  soul  of  the  first  man,  that  he  and  his  descendants,  united  to  God  by 
charity,  might  partake  in  this  life  of  that  peace  and  most  perfect  beatitude 
to  which  they  were  destined  in  the  next.  Adam's  error,  which  threw  all 
mankind  into  the  vile  slavery  of  the  rebellious  passions,  made  of  this 
world  a  theatre  of  enormous  crimes,  of  guilty  machinations,  of  secret 
calumnies,  of  invectives,  and  all  sorts  of  injustice.  Human  legislation 
to  check  this  sad  overflowing  of  evils  used  all  kinds  of  remedies  and 
punishments.  With  these  cooperated  the  religious  ideas  of  pagans, 
which,  though  false,  still  had  as  a  principal  aim  the  union  of  the 
people  in  one  thought  and  affection.  Moses,  the  first  lawgiver  of  the 
chosen  people,  in  the  love  of  God  and  of  our  neighbor  includes  all  the 
precepts  of  his  tables.  Jesus  Christ,  who  from  the  highest  heavens 
came  down  on  earth  to  rekindle  and  revive  this  flame  of  charity  which 
was  nearly  extinguished  in  men's  hearts,  reduced  all  the  laws,  the 
prophets,  the  sacrifices,  the  worships,  and,  I  will  say  it,  for  the 
greater  part  even  the  love  of  God  to  the  love  of  our  neighbor. 
According  to  the  spirit  of  the  Gospel,  the  love  of  God  is  the 
word  of  the  heart  cultivated  interiorly,  and  the  love  of  our  neighbor 
is  the  complete  realization  of  the  social  actions,  embracing  and  in 
cluding  all  the  virtues  and  all  the  duties,  and  touching  all  the  points 
of  every  perfection.  He  who  says  that  he  loves  God  and  yet  entertains 
hatred  against  his  neighbor  is  a  liar.  He  who  may  even  spend  all  the 
hours  of  his  life  in  penance  and  prayer,  in  works  of  divine  worship,  and 
loves  not  his  neighbor,  is  a  hypocrite,  a  Pharisee;  ^  For"  thus  argues 
the  Apostle  St.  John,  ^he  who  loves  not  his  brother  whom  he  seeth, 


how  can  he  love  God,  whom  he  seeth  not?"  (i  John  iv,  20).  Like  God's 
precepts,  so,  also,  those  of  the  Church  are  but  means  to  lead  us  to  the 
most  noble  end  of  fraternal  benevolence.  "  Go,"  said  Jesus  Christ  to  the 
Apostles,  "and  announce  to  the  whole  world  the  gospel,  the  good  news, 
the  universal  peace,  the  reunion  of  all  the  members  to  their  one  only 
Head !  "  Choosing  Peter  to  preside  over  the  rest,  he  only  inquired  about 
his  charity,  of  which  being  assured,  He  concluded:  "Feed My  sheep" 
(John  xxi,  17).  The  Holy  Ghost  dwelling  in  the  heart  of  the  Apostles 
so  diffused  charity  therein,  that  thenceforth  they  lived  but  for  the  benefit 
of  their  brethren.  The  image  of  God,  equally  imprinted  in  every  human 
creature,  is  the  most  powerful  motive  which  should  induce  us  to  love, 
benefit,  and  help  everybody  as  much  as  we  can.  It  not  only  checks  all 
positively  contrary  feelings,  but  also  that  voracious  self-love;  and,  to  use 
the  word  now  mostly  in  vogue,  that  cruel  egotism  which,  whilst  wishing 
that  everything  should  serve  to  its  comfort,  extinguishes  in  the  heart  the 
sacred  sparks  of  compassionating  charity,  and  hardens  and  closes  the 
heart,  so  that  the  love  of  our  neighbor  has  no  place  therein.  Having 
laid  down  these  premises,  already  mentioned  elsewhere  but  never  suf 
ficiently  repeated,  let  us  in  this  chapter  look  in  particular  to  the  acts 
practiced  by  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi  in  behalf  of  her  neighbors,  listen 
ing  in  the  meantime  to  the  voice  of  nature,  which,  by  the  regeneration 
of  Jesus  Christ,  calls  strongly  upon  us  to  embrace  as  brothers  all  people 
and  all  nations. 

St.  Mary  Magdalen  being  in  the  habit  of  writing  down  all  the  acts 
of  virtue  in  the  practice  of  which  she  felt  greater  interest  and  zeal, 
among  those  of  charity  towards  her  neighbor,  we  find  the  following : 
"  To  incline  the  will  to  love  the  creature  simply  because  God  loves  her, 
and  to  rejoice  in  the  love  which  He  bears  to  her,  and  in  the  perfection 
which  He  communicates  to  her."  In  speaking  thus,  she  manifested  the 
purity  of  this  sentiment :  "  Even  granted  (which  cannot  be)  that  God 
Himself  wanted  to  permit  our  neighbor  to  offend  us  and  cause  us  grief, 
nevertheless  we  must  wish  our  neighbor  all  the  perfection  and  glory  of 
the  seraphim,  even  if  he  were  to  employ  it  against  us."  And  again: 
"  If  God  were  pleased,  and  it  would  redound  to  His  glory,  that  I  should 
be  troubled  by  a  creature  having  the  talents  of  the  seraphim,  still  I  must 
and  will  wish  her  to  possess  those  talents,  though  they  are  to  be  spent 
to  offend  me,  in  order  to  give  delight  and  glory  to  God."  To  this  alter 
nate  passing  from  the  love  of  God  to  that  of  her  neighbor,  and  from  the 
latter  to  the  former,  her  most  profound  humility  was  not  a  stranger,  as 
she  sometimes  said  that  she  wished  more  good  to  her  neighbor  than  to 
herself,  thinking  that  her  neighbor  would  be  more  thankful  to  God  for  it, 
and  would  derive  more  benefit  therefrom  than  herself. 

Whilst  contemplating  one  day  the  grace  of  God  under  the  image  of 
a  fount,  she,  in  the  effervescence  of  her  spirit,  saw  many  souls  around  this 
fount  like  many  little  lambs,  and,  being  overtaken  by  the  desire  that  all 
of  them  should  dip  in  that  fount  to  taste  its  celestial  sweetness,  she 
continued,  saying  with  animated  words :  "  I  would  like  to  dip  therein 
all  those  souls  one  by  one."  As  if  in  the  act  of  seeing  some  of  them  dip 
ping  themselves  into  the  fount,  she  added  with  great  joy:  "  O  my  Jesus, 
they  do  very  well." 

222  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

During  the  five  years  of  her  probation  whilst  God  had  deprived  her 
of  all  spiritual  taste,  she  compensated  herself  for  this  privation  by 
wishing  the  greatest  possible  good  to  her  neighbor.  This  she  herself 
said  during  the  last  eight  days  of  her  ecstasy  before  she  entered  that  hor 
rible  and  long  trial :  u  I  shall  stay  there  in  a  little  corner  "  (she  said  in 
a  low  and  very  submissive  voice)  "  looking  at  all  the  other  Brides,  my 
companions,  having  myself  nothing  to  taste ;  but  I  shall  do,  Eternal 
Word,  like  those  little 'infants  Thou  hast  taken  up  to  Thyself  (viz., 
those  children  who  die  after  baptism  before  reaching  the  use  of  reason), 
"  who,  though  they  possess  not  that  fullness  of  glory  which  they  see 
many  other  Saints  possessing,  nevertheless  are  satisfied  with  what  they 
have  ;  or  else  I  will  think  that  I,  too,  possess  all  those  things  that  others 
possess ;  and  though  I  shall  not  taste  them,  yet  charity,  which  makes 
things  common  to  all,  will  make  me  taste  even  while  not  tasting  them, 
as  if  sharing  in  others'  taste. " 

Her  companions  of  the  monastery  testified  to  having  witnessed 
many  a  time  the  excessive  joy  by  which  Mary  Magdalen  was  transported 
at  seeing  souls  favored  by  God  with  graces  and  celestial  gifts.  As  to 
the  gifts  with  which  God  favored  her,  she  not  only  wished  but  also  tried 
with  utmost  industry  to  communicate  them  to  others.  This  she  did  on 
all  occasions,  but  especially,  as  we  have  already  seen,  during  the  time  that 
she  had  charge  of  the  novices  and  young  ladies  of  the  monastery.  She 
received  no  spiritual  light  which  she  did  not  try  to  communicate — now 
by  example,  now  by  words,  in  which  way,  while  in  ecstasy,  she  was 
sometimes  forced  by  the  Spirit  of  God  to  manifest  the  treasures  of  her 
heart  more  than  she  would  have  done  of  her  own  will.  This  happened 
particularly  the  third  night  of  Pentecost,  during  the  already  recorded 
ecstasy  of  eight  continuous  days,  whilst  penetrating  with  her  thoughts 
into  the  humanity  of  the  Word  and  contemplating  it  under  the  symbol 
of  a  most  charming  garden.  She  said  that  on  the  feet  of  Jesus  she 
found  flowers,  in  His  hands  fruits  and  jewels,  and  in  His  heart  darts  of 
love  in  great  abundance.  Then,  fixing  her  admiring  gaze  on  the  sacred 
feet,  she  said:  u  He  that  wants  to  find  many  bouquets  of  flowers  and 
lilies  let  him  come  here,  as  he  can  gather  baskets  of  them  around  the 
feet  of  my  Spouse. "  And,  with  boundless  love,  she  added  :  u  I  would 
like  with  these  flowers  to  make  garlands  and  place  them  on  the  heads  of 
Thy  Brides,  but  I  will  make  a  little  bundle  of  them,  and  give  them  to 
Mary  to  preserve  them."  Contemplating  the  left  hand,  she  spoke  thus  : 
"  These  fruits  which  I  draw  from  the  left  hand,  O  Word,  I  would  like 
to  have  not  only  for  myself,  but  I  aspire  to  communicate  them  also 
to  the  whole  world."  At  the  right  hand,  she  continued:  4'From  this 
right  hand  of  thine,  O  Word,  I  will  gather  all  the  precious  gems  that  I 
shall  find  therein,  which  my  soul  wishes  to  communicate  to  every 
creature."  Of  the  darts  of  love  she  found  in  the  Sacred  Side,  deeming 
herself  unable  to  bear  them,  she  only  said,  exclaiming :  "  O  Heart,  O  Side 
of  the  Eternal  Word  Incarnate,  one  cannot  correspond  to  so  great  an 
influence  of  Thine.  Thou  dartest  too  much,  one  cannot  bear  it ;  great 
assistance  is  needed  to  correspond  to  and  keep  so  many  darts."  On  the 
second  day  of  this  same  ecstasy,  she  also  gave  a  sign  of  this  desire  of 
communicating  every  good  to  the  souls;  whilst  contemplating  the  grace 


of  the  Holy  Ghost  under  the  image  of  water,  she  uttered  these  words : 
"  O  Precious  Water  ;  oh  !  if  one  could  become  a  fountain  of  it  through 
charity !  Oh,  if  one  could  communicate  it  and  scatter  it  through  the 
whole  world,  and  become  a  fountain  of  it  and  a  river  so  large  and 
swift  that  it  would  carry  and  draw  along,  as  if  to  the  sea,  all  the 
souls  to  eternal  life !  "  Many  other  things  she  added,  by  which  she 
gave  to  understand  how  ardently  she  wished  that  the  Holy  Ghost  would 
be  diffused  by  His  grace  through  the  hearts  of  all  creatures.  She  also 
manifested  the  same  desire  coupled  with  grief  at  seeing  the  souls  remain 
ing  deprived  of  the  grace  of  God. 

In  another  ecstasy,  understanding  how  the  Divine  Spirit  wanted  to 
depart  from  some  souls  on  account  of  their  ingratitude,  she  felt  for  them 
so  much  affliction  and  anguish  that  she  became  pale,  as  if  mortally 
wounded,  and  gave  vent  to  expressions  of  the  deepest  bitterness.  Then, 
to  appease  God  and  move  Him  to  pity,  she  formed  some  most  devout 
prayers  upon  these  words  :  "Protector  noster,  aspice  Dens  ;  et  re  spice  in 
faciem  Christi  tui"-— "  Look,  O  Lord,  our  Protector;  look  upon  the  face 
of  Thy  Christ;"  as  if  taking  for  an  Intercessor  the  wounded  and  bloody 
face  of  her  beloved  Jesus.  Among  her  morning  protestations  there  was 
this  also,  that  she  wanted  to  suffer  any  extreme  suffering  rather  than 
prevent  her  neighbor's  attaining  some  greater  spiritual  good. 

But  the  most  conspicuous  mark  of  heavenly  and  wonderful  truth 
in  the  life  of  Mary  Magdalen  appears  from  her  enjoyment  of  so 
many  contemplations,  ecstasies,  and  excesses  of  love  and  her  per 
formance  of  so  many  charitable  actions  for  which  she  was  always 
ready,  and  which  were  so  easy  to  her.  Her  contemplative  method 
causes  us  immediately  to  liken  her  to  the  Magdalen  of  the  Divine 
Master,  who,  finding  her  delight  in  sitting  at  His  sacred  feet,  was 
leaving  to  her  sister  all  the  care  of  earthly  things.  The  activity, 
the  solicitude,  the  affection  with  which  our  Saint  lent  herself  to  all 
works  of  charity  convince  us  likewise  that  she,  in  choosing  the  best 
part,  neglected  in  no  way  to  imitate  in  some  manner  the  busying  of 
Martha  for  the  social  conveniences  of  human  life.  For,  besides  the 
spiritual  charities  of  consoling  the  afflicted  and  sad  ones,  encouraging 
the  tempted  and  the  faint-hearted,  there  was  no  work  done  in  the  monas 
tery,  to  which,  as  far  as  obedience  permitted  her,  she  did  not  put  her 
hand.  She  wanted  to  partake  of  all  the  labors  of  either  veiled  or  lay 
sisters.  The  sisters  endeavored  to  hide  their  needs  from  her,  as  they 
knew  it  was  impossible  for  her  to  abstain  from  coming  in  some  manner 
to  their  relief,  at  the  cost  of  any  sacrifice.  Besides  the  offices  she  filled 
in  the  Order,  frequently  she  would  go  to  the  kitchen  to  help  in  the 
laborious  duties  of  the  cooks — now  carrying  wood,  now  drawing  wateY, 
now  cleaning  and  putting  away  the  kitchen  utensils  and  crockery; 
sometimes  waiting  on  the  table,  sweeping  the  cells,  washing,  making 
bread  and  carrying  it  to  the  oven,  or  doing  other  similar  work,  to  which 
not  by  obedience,  but  by  charity  alone  she  was  drawn.  Thus  volun 
tarily  helping  a  lay-sister  for  six  years  to  bake,  she  arose  before  the 
usual  time,  heated  the  water,  and  commenced  to  work  at  the  flour.  In 
carrying  the  bread  to  the  oven  upon  a  board,  she  would  go  as  quickly  as 
possible,  so  that  the  greatest  share  of  the  work  would  be  hers.  For  the 

224  TRE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

washing  of  the  community,  she  arose  before  the  lay-sisters,  filled  the 
cauldrons  with  water,  gathered  the  wood,  built  the  fire,  and  commenced 
to  wash ;  so  that  when  the  others  appeared,  she  had  already  finished  a 
great  deal  of  work.  She  would  sometimes  stay  washing  linens  for  five 
or  six  hours  in  the  night,  that  she  might  not  be  seen  so  assiduously  at 
work  in  the  day-time,  and  that  she  might  during  the  day  perform  other 
labors,  according  to  her  various  duties.  Whilst  she  was  mistress  of 
novices,  she  sent  them  through  the  monastery  to  look  after  soiled 
linens;  and  having  gotten  them,  she  washed  them  in  the  night-time, 
the  more  to  lessen  the  work  of  others.  Suffice  it  to  say  that  by  reason 
of  this  constant  occupation  at  washing,  a  bone  of  her  right  hand  became 
dislocated.  O  God !  what  a  cause  for  wonder,  shame,  and  confusion 
for  us  to  see  a  noble  young  lady,  delicate,  innocent,  who  overcoming  her 
own  weak  constitution,  is  willing  to  lay  down  her  very  life  for  the  love 
of  her  neighbors.  If  any  lay-sister  out  of  dutiful  respect  refused  to  be 
assisted  in  her  work  by  Magdalen,  the  latter  would  beg  her  in  such  a 
pressing  manner  that  she  was  forced  to  let  her  help  her.  "  Deprive  me 
not,  sister"  (the  Saint  would  say),  "of  the  merit  of  this  work;  let  me  do 
it ;  thou  shalt  do  something  else  for  me.  It  is  better  that  we  should 
labor  in  doing  work  one  for  the  other,  than  that  one  should  work  for 
herself  alone;  as  in  working  for  one's  self  there  is  self-love,  and  in 
working  for  others  there  is  charity." 

When  by  reason  of  some  occupation  she  could  not  be  present  to 
work  with  the  lay-sisters,  if  any  spare  time  was  left  her,  she  would 
immediately  go  to  their  cells  to  sweep  and  to  make  their  beds,  saying 
afterwards:  "  I  wish  those  poor  sisters,  after  they  have  done  their  work, 
to  have  rest."  It  being  the  duty  of  a  lay-sister  to  call  the  nuns  to 
matins,  she  asked  her  the  favor  (with  the  permission  of  the  superioress) 
to  attend  to  this  alternately  with  her,  one  week  each.  She  having 
obtained  permission,  and  having  attended  to  it  for  some  time,  the  lay- 
sister  took  sick,  and  Mary  Magdalen  continued  alone  for  fifteen  years  to 
call  up  the  nuns  every  night  for  matins.  When  the  needs  of  the  monas 
tery  required  something  to  be  done  which  few  knew  how  to  do,  she 
herself  tried  with  the  greatest  care  to  learn  how  to  do  it,  in  order  to 
help  those  who  were  doing  it,  and  that  the  monastery  might  not  be 
deprived  of  any  assistance  she  could  possibly  give  it,  as  every  Religious 
is  bound  to  do.  She  was  wont  to  say  that  she  looked  upon  that  day  as 
lost  in  which  she  had  not  done  some  act  of  charity  towards  her  neigh 
bor.  But,  in  truth,  not  one  such  loss  can  be  counted  during  her  whole 
life.  The  occasions  for  being  charitable  in  the  community  life  are 
most  frequent;  and  Mary  Magdalen,  far  from  passing  them  by,  hunted 
them  up  with  great  diligence,  and  she  wanted  to  embrace  them  all. 
Sometimes,  though  very  tired  from  having  done  some  hard  work,  if 
occasion  offered  itself,  without  showing  that  she  was  tired,  she  seized  it 
as  if  she  were  just  then  commencing  her  day's  work ;  and  being  some 
times  asked  by  some  sister  to  take  rest,  or  questioned  as  to  how  she 

could  endure  so  much,  she  answered :  "  My  body  is  like  that  of  an  ass 

I  suffer  nothing  ;"  or  else  :  "  This  body  of  mine  is  like  that  of  a  little 
donkey,  and  must  carry  its  load  day  and  night,  and  must  not  be  given 
any  Test."  At  the  same  time,  through  humility,  she  added  that  she  was 


good  for  nothing,  that  she  knew  not  how  to  pray,  and  that  in  order  that 
she  might  not  become  useless  to  the  Order,  she  had  to  occupy  herself 
about  these  exterior  exercises.  But  the  fact  was  that  she  exerted  herself 
so  indefatigably  in  behalf  of  her  neighbor,  not  so  much  on  account  of 
her  special  virtue,  as  in  order  to  fulfill  the  Rule  given  her  by  her  Divine 
Spouse,  in  which  He  commanded  her  to  thirst,  as  the  deer  for  water, 
after  the  exercise  of  charity  towards  her  neighbor  at  all  times,  without 
any  greater  consideration  for  the  weakness  and  fatigue  of  her  body  than 
for  the  dust  which  is  trampled  upon. 

So  did  our  heroine  work,  that  the  sisters  bore  testimony  that  her 
labors  were  equivalent  to  those  of  four  lay-sisters.  Because  of  this,  there 
being  no  necessity  which  she  did  not  run  to  satisfy,  no  sister  whom  she 
did  not  benefit,  she  was  styled  the  Mother  of  Charity  and  the  Charity  of 
the  Monastery.  Hence,  the  nuns  felt  constant  admiration  for  her,  for 
they  could  not  help  regarding  as  a  supernatural  gift  both  this  over-exertion 
of  Magdalen,  with  her  weak  constitution  and  all  her  fasts  and  penances, 
and  the  perfect  manner  in  which  she  attended  to  one  office  and  the  other, 
as  if  she  were  entirely  contemplative  or  wholly  active.  In  the  exterior 
works  they  would  see  her  always  fixed  in  God,  even  so  as  to  remain 
ecstatic  some  time ;  and  in  the  interior  acts  she  was  never  forgetful  of  the 
needs  of  her  neighbor;  nay,  many  times  it  happened,  especially  when  she 
had  charge  of  the  novices,  that  during  the  ecstasy  itself  she  performed 
works  of  charity,  and  told  others  to  do  what  she  herself  could  not 
then  do.  As  during  the  days  of  great  solemnities  she  would  generally  be 
rapt  in  ecstasy,  she,  in  the  care  and  prudence  of  her  charity,  antici 
pated  those  days,  giving  orders  to  the  teacher  or  the  senior  of  the 
novices  for  the  performance  of  those  works  of  charity  that  she  herself 
had  been  accustomed  to  perform  for  the  novices,  or  the  sick  sisters,  or 
others  in  need.  When  that  hour  came,  though  she  might  be  in  the 
height  of  her  ecstasy,  she  reminded  them*of  what  she  had  ordered,  and 
requested  its  being  done.  But  the  manner,  the  intensity,  the  fervor  of  her 
attendance  upon  the  sick,  carried  her  to  such  excesses  that  they  seem 
almost  incredible.  If  one  of  the  sisters  became  sick,  she  tried  to  be  the 
first  one  to  visit  her,  offering  her  services.  According  to  the  gravity  of 
the  illness  and  the  disposition  of  the  sick,  day  and  night  Mary  Magdalen 
made  and  repeated  her  visits.  She  also  studied  to  anticipate  the  needs 
of  others,  and  then  she  informed  the  superioress  or  the  officer  that  these 
might  be  provided  for,  as  opportunity  permitted.  She  compassionated 
so  much  the  pains  of  corporal  sickness  in  anybody,  that  she  prayed  to 
God  rather  to  send  them  to  herself.  Several  times  she  was  heard  to  say 
to  some  patient :  "I  wish  I  could  steal  these  pains  from  thee."  And 
the  patient  answering  her  with  the  like  charity  that  she  would  not  wish 
her  to  suffer  them  in  the  least,  Mary  Magdalen  replied  :  u  My  constitu 
tion  is  more  robust  than  thine,  and  I  would  not  feel  them  so  much." 
With  those  who  on  account  of  sickness  felt  a  dislike  for  food,  she 
employed  all  the  art  that  a  tender  mother  employs  with  her  child  when 
it  refuses  to  eat.  If  there  was  any  sister  wrho  had  by  order  of  the  physi 
cians  to  take  medicine  at  inconvenient  hours  of  the  night,  requiring  the 
nurse,  Mary  Magdalen  offered  herself  for  this  office,  in  order  to  save 
trouble  to  others,  and  to  make  her  act  more  sincere  and  acceptable. 

226  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS  OF 

Knowing  that  one  was  short  or  in  need  of  something,  she  deprived  her 
self  of  it,  if  she  had  it,  or  procured  it  elsewhere.  This  she  did  especially 
when  some  of  the  sisters  were  convalescent  in  the  infirmary,  so  that  they 
would  not  need  to  be  too  solicitous  for  themselves,  to  the  detriment  both 
of  their  bodies  and  of  their  souls.  The  least  thing  that  might  be  of 
some  benefit  to  the  sick  did  not  escape  her  attention.  Sometimes, 
having  scarcely  come  out  of  a  rapture,  she  would  be  seen  running  to  the 
bedside  of  some  sick  nun,  as  if  that  were  her  only  thought,  and  as  if  in 
atonement  for  having  been  detained  a  little.  Such  was  the  satisfaction 
of  her  heart  in  doing  these  things,  that  she  used  to  say  there  was 
no  office  in  Religion  she  wished  so  much  as  that  of  nurse ;  and  at  the 
mere  thought  of  it  she  rejoiced  immensely.  Sometimes  she  talked 
about  what  she  would  do  for  the  sick ;  and  seeing  herself  incapacitated 
from  doing  it  by  her  other  offices,  she  felt  ineffable  grief  thereat,  without 
losing  a  moment  in  exerting  herself  in  every  way  she  could.  This  charity 
of  hers  was  unalterably  the  same  for  all,  the  same  in  all  circumstances, 
always  disinterested  and  always  practiced  simply  for  the  love  of  God. 
Nothing  did  she  wish  but  the  glory  of  God,  the  temporal  and  eternal 
happiness  of  her  neighbors ;  seeing  in  these  but  brothers  and  sisters, 
all  children  of  the  same  Father,  all  belonging  to  the  same  family,  all 
redeemed  from  perdition  by  the  same  Redeemer,  all  called  to  the  same 
everlasting  beatitude.  She  saw  the  image  of  the  Divine  Creator  clearly 
imprinted  on  the  forehead  of  the  rich  as  well  as  of  the  poor,  of  the  superior 
as  well  as  of  the  subject,  of  the  learned  as  well  as  of  the  ignorant.  No 
matter  how  faulty  or  even  loaded  with  sins  one  might  be,  the  noble  and 
generous  sentiment  of  Magdalen  for  such  did  not  diminish.  In  serving 
her  neighbor  she  thought  that  she  was  serving  God  Himself;  and  her 
nuns  in  particular  she  regarded  as  daughters  of  the  Eternal  Father,  as 
Brides  of  the  Word,  as  temples  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  or  as  sisters  of  the 
Angels ;  or  else  she  considered  the  love  with  which  God  had  loved  and 
was  still  loving  them,  and  in  this  consideration  she  enkindled  within 
herself  such  a  fire  of  charity  that  she  said:  u  I  would  undertake  to  bear 
anything  for  my  neighbor,  and  especially  to  obtain  rest  and  consolation 
for  a  soul ;  as  a  restless  heart  gives  not  true  rest  to  God  in  itself;  and  I 
wish  for  nothing  except  to  give  to  God  His  own  creatures.'*  These 
same  reflections  she  suggested  to  her  nuns,  saying  to  them:  "  You 
ought  to  consider  yourselves  unworthy,  and  regard  it  as  a  great  favor, 
to  serve  souls  that  are  the  tabernacles  of  the  Holy  Ghost." 

We  have  already  seen  that  she  did  not  neglect  the  least  opportunity 
of  leading  her  subjects  to  practices  of  charity.  When  her  parents  sent 
anything  which  she  deemed  of  some  use  to  the  sick  or  the  convalescent, 
with  the  permission  of  the  superioress,  she  brought  it  to  them,  but  as 
the  property  of  the  Religion,  for  in  her  modesty  she  did  not  wish  to  ap 
pear  as  if  making  a  present,  that  the  sisters  might  not  have  to  consider 
themselves  doubly  obliged  to  her.  By  the  intensity  of  her  love  for  this 
exercise  of  serving  the  sick,  once  she  said  that,  though  she  was  perfectly 
satisfied  with  the  state  in  which  God  had  placed  her,  yet  she  would  have 
regarded  it  as  the  greatest  grace  if  God  had  wanted  her  to  be  a  servant  in  a 
hospital.  *  *  I  would  like,"  she  said,  "  to  render  there  to  the  sick  all  service 
possible,  as  I  see  that  I  do  not  know  how  to  draw  souls  to  the  knowledge 


of  the  love  of  God,  neither  do  I  deserve  to  lead  them  to  it,  which  is 
what  would  mostly  please  me.  But  if  I  were  employed  in  a  hospital,  at 
least  I  would  serve  their  bodies." 

Besides  the  general  services  and  the  charity  thus  far  related,  she 
took  upon  herself  the  office  of  assisting  particularly  some  sick  sisters, 
among  whom  were  two  lay-sisters,  one  named  Sister  Charity  and  the  other 
Sister  Mattea.  The  first  of  these  was  blind  and  affected  with  phthisis. 
For  the  whole  year  during  which  she  kept  her  bed,  Mary  Magdalen 
waited  on  her  with  tireless  attention,  changing  her  clothing  and  assisting 
her  in  all  her  necessities,  which  are  so  frequent  and  hard  to  satisfy  in  an 
unhappy  blind  and  sick  person.  On  being  asked  by  the  superioress 
why  she  was  so  solicitous  for  this  lay-sister,  she  answered  that  Jesus  had 
shown  Himself  to  her  as  poor,  and  had  told  her  that  if  she  wanted  to  do 
a  thing  pleasing  to  Him,  she  should  serve  Him  in  the  person  of  that  sick 
Bride  of  His.  The  other  lay-sister,  Sister  Mattea,  had  a  sore  on  her 
right  limb,  from  which  issued  vermin  and  corruption  with  such  a  stench 
that  it  was  necessary  to  keep  her  in  a  room  apart  from  the  rest.  Mary 
Magdalen  attended  to  this  sore,  applying  the  remedies  to  it  and  cleaning 
it  from  the  vermin  and  corruption  and  the  like,  which  is  far  from  pleasing 
to  the  human  stomach.  But  all  this  was  not  sufficient  to  satisfy  the 
ardent  charity  of  our  Saint,  as  she  went  so  far  that,  through  humility  and 
for  her  greater  mortification,  several  times  she 'put  her  lips  to  the  sore, 
as  if  to  draw  the  disease  all  to  herself.  This,  with  tears  of  tenderness 
and  confusion,  was  related  by  the  patient  herself  to  the  mother  prioress, 
Sister  Vangelista  del  Giocondo.  With  Sisters  Barbara  Bassi  and  Benigna 
Orlandini,  Mary  Magdalen  acted  likewise  ;  as,  after  the  most  loving  care 
bestowed  upon  them  to  relieve  them  of  their  sickness,  she  also  licked 
their  limbs  which  were  affected  by  contagious  and  offensive  diseases,  the 
heroism  of  which  action  was  followed  by  the  miraculous  cure  of  both 
these  sisters. 

During  the  gravity  of  the  disease,  when  the  patient  was  in  danger 
of  her  life,  Mary  Magdalen  redoubled  her  care.  If  necessary,  she  watched 
several  consecutive  nights  at  the  bedside  of  the  sick,  without  taking  the 
least  rest ;  and  if,  being  overtired,  she  took  a  little  rest,  it  was  on  a  chair, 
not  on  the  straw-bed.  By  the  bedside  of  one  of  the  above-mentioned 
lay-sisters,  she  stood  watching  continuously  for  ten  consecutive  days  and 
nights,  and  fifteen  by  the  bedside  of  the  other. 

But  it  is  impossible  to  tell  how  ardent  her  charity  became  on  the 
approach  of  the  last  moment  of  some  sister.  It  is  not  necessary  to 
repeat  that  the  chief  aim  of  her  charity  always  was  the  glory  of  God 
and  the  salvation  of  souls  ;  so  that  the  arguments  most  calculated  to 
strengthen  and  sanctify  the  spirit  were  brought  forward  by  her  at  all 
times  and  with  all  persons,  more  than  those  which  had  only  reference  to 
this  material  life.  Whilst  at  the  bedside  of  a  dying  person,  she  deemed 
it  a  grievous  sin  to  lose  a  single  minute.  The  importance  of  the  passage 
from  time  to  eternity,  the  life  of  a  God  immolated  for  all  the  souls  and 
for  each  of  them  in  particular,  the  severity  of  a  judgment  without  appeal, 
were  subjects  which  left  not  Mary  Magdalen  enough  strength  to  do  all 
she  wished  to  do  in  behalf  of  the  agonizing  ones.  She  wanted  always 
to  be  present  at  the  passing  away  of  the  sisters  of  her  monastery.  And, 

228  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OK 

being  present,  now  she  read  the  Recommendation  of  the  Soul,  now  the 
Passio,  or  the  psalms  or  other  devout  prayers,  now  she  spoke  about  God 
and  induced  the  dying  nun  to  make  acts  of  contrition,  of  love,  of  hope, 
of  faith,  and  especially  of  resignation  to  the  Divine  Will,  making  a 
virtuous  sacrifice  of  what  necessarily  must  return  to  the  nullity  of  its 
origin.  In  so  doing,  it  happened  that  while  alleviating  as  far  as  pos 
sible  the  horrible  but  inevitable  anguish  consequent  on  the  separation 
of  the  soul  from  the  body,  her  charity  was  so  efficacious  that  the  agonizing 
one  with  these  consolations  expired,  not  sadly  but  with  calm  trust  in  the 
arms  of  the  Lord ;  and  her  companions  were  so  edified  by  her  death 
that  every  one  of  them  wished  to  have  Mother  Mary  Magdalen  to  assist 
at  their  last  hours,  deeming  that  blessed  were  those  who  expired  in 
her  arms.  Even  to  the  corpse  of  a  deceased  she  showed  those  regards 
that  her  highly  merciful  heart  knew  how  to  suggest  to  her.  She  did 
not  leave  it  until  it  was  buried ;  and,  in  the  meantime,  she  prayed  to 
God  for  that  soul  in  the  most  fervent  manner ;  and  whilst  doing  that, 
being  nearly  always  rapt  in  ecstasy,  she  came  to  know,  supernaturally, 
the  state  of  the  souls  for  whom  she  was  interceding  ;  and,  seeing  them 
in  purgatory,  besides  the  prayers,  the  fasts,  the  disciplines,  and  other 
penances  she  practiced  for  them,  she  offered  herself  to  God,  and  asked  of 
Him  that  she  might  surfer  for  them  in  her  body  as  many  torments  as 
would  be  equivalent  to  the  sufferings  they  were  to  undergo.  This  God 
several  times  granted  to  her;  so  that,  in  consequence  of  it,  for  many  days 
she  endured  such  pains  in  her  limbs  as  if  they  had  been  lacerated  by 
dogs  or  bitten  by  serpents.  Afterwards  she  was  consoled  by  the  sight 
of  those  same  souls  that,  thanks  to  these  satisfactory  sufferings  of  hers, 
were  passing  joyfully  and  happily  to  the  possession  of  the  everlasting 

This  great  charity  of  our  Saint  was  accompanied  by,  or  rather  took 
strength  chiefly  from  the  high  opinion  and  esteem  that  she  entertained 
of  all,  as  she  always  thought  more  of  the  spirit  than  of  the  flesh,  and  all 
reasoning  creatures  she  called  by  the  name  of  souls.  Of  everyone  she 
was  wont  to  speak  with  reverence  and  affection,  and  never  did  the  least 
word  that  might  be  offensive  to  her  neighbor  escape  her  lips  ;  aiid,  save 
the  corrections  she  was  obliged  to  make  with  her  subjects  whilst  in 
office,  she  always  excused  the  faults  and  failings  of  others,  and  advised 
that  as  little  as  possible  should  be  said  of  them,  "because"  (she  used 
to  say)  "as  glass  which  is  handled  without  care  is  easily  broken,  so,  also, 
our  neighbor,  being  too  much  on  our  lips,  is  easily  offended."  When 
called  to  the  parlor  grates  to  see  some  outsiders,  she  would  go  and  re 
main  there  with  so  much  modesty  and  reverence,  and  show  so  much 
respect  for  everyone,  that  they  would  part  from  her  very  much  edified 
and  happy.  The  domestic  intercourse  with  her  nuns  was  a  continuous 
exercise  of  charity  and  humility.  The  spiritually  important  titles  by 
which  she  called  them  showed  in  what  esteem  she  held  them,  and  with 
what  dignity  she  deemed  their  souls  clothed  as  Brides-elect  of  Jesus. 
She  considered  herself  unworthy  to  dwell  with  them,  and  she  was  fre 
quently  seen  to  kiss  the  ground  on  which  they  had  stood,  and  to  honor 
them  in  many  other  respectful  ways,  as  we  shall  see  in  speaking  of  her 
humility  in  particular. 

Burning  exceedingly  with  divine  love,  now  she  refreshed  her  breast 

with  cool  water,  and  now  she  ran  through  the  monastery, 

Crucifix  in  hand  (page  162). 



It  is  useless  to  say  that  the  spirit  of  contention,  opposition,  and 
domineering  was  not  in  her  at  all ;  and  if,  on  finding  fault  with  any  of 
her  disciples,  she  was  answered  with  some  indocility,  she  deferred  the 
making  of  the  correction  until  a  more  suitable  time,  cutting  off  for  the 
present  every  cause  of  opposition.  Thus  envy,  rancor,  and  the  like  fatal 
enemies  of  human  tranquillity  were  wholly  unknown  to  the  heart  of 
Mary  Magdalen.  When  she  met  a  nun  or  a  lay-sister  in  the  monastery, 
she  was  the  first  to  salute  her  with  a  modest  and  ingenuously  cheerful 
countenance.  As  to  the  superiors  and  the  seniors,  she  always  met  them 
with  that  demeanor  that  one  would  wish  to  see  in  a  novice  on  the  first 
day  of  her  entering  Religion.  She  called  prelates  and  priests  God's 
christs,  looking  upon  them  as  the  representatives  of  God  Himself,  and 
'she  could  not  endure  that  the  sisters  should  speak  of  them,  even  when 
the  least  occasion  was  given,  with  levity  or  disrespect.  She  always  re 
mained  on  her  knees  before  them  until  they  ordered  her  to  arise.  But 
these  were  marks  of  exterior  respect ;  as  to  the  esteem  and  love  of  her 
heart,  they  embraced  in  like  manner  the  highest  and  the  humblest  of 
them.  Finally,  we  must  remark  that  many  a  time  she  postponed  her 
spiritual  exercises,  most  sweet  though  they  were  on  account  of  the  special 
favors  of  Heaven,  in  order  to  assist  her  neighbor  in  his  needs,  saying  that 
she  most  cheerfully  left  God  for  God,  viz.,  that  as  no  one  could  see  God 
in  this  mortal  life,  love  for  Him  can  best  be  shown  by  charity  towards 
our  brethren,  so  that  the  highest  excesses  of  divine  love  in  the  Saints 
were  rather  consequences  or  rewards  of  perfect  fraternal  charity. 

To  conclude  so  important  a  subject,  let  us  beware  of  following  those 
who  are  pleased  to  consider  mankind  like  a  herd  of  shrewd  or  foolish 
beasts,  born  only  to  feed,  beget,  move  about,  and  return  into  dust.  Let 
us  rather  learn  and  practice  the  maxim  of  fraternal  charity — pure, 
universal,  without  distinction  of  persons — so  clearly  and  strictly  com 
manded  us,  even  from  the  day  when,  as  the  Apostle  says,  the  benignity 
and  charity  of  our  Lord  and  Saviour  appeared,  and  afterwards  practiced 
after  this  Divine  Model  by  persons  like  ourselves,  who,  sanctifying  their 
own  lives,  deserved  so  well  of  society.  Let  us  render  to  each  other  the 
justice  of  love,  esteem,  and  beneficence,  so  that  prayer,  fasting,  the 
Church,  and  all  the  practices  of  Religion  may  not  become  illusory,  because 
not  corresponding  to  the  spirit  from  which  they  are  supposed  to  pro 
ceed.  As  doing  good  calls  for  a  return  of  the  same,  it  wonderfully 
promotes  the  happiness  of  the  human  family,  and  brings  to  our  con 
science  the  sweetest  testimony  of  having  properly  seconded  the  noblest 
sentiment  of  man.  Though  through  somebody's  wickedness  our  good 
deeds  may  not  be  well  known,  and  our  virtue  may  be  denied  its  credit 
and  value,  yet  let  us  not  depart,  because  of  this,  from  the  practice  of 
fraternal  charity  ;  and  let  this  be  our  consolation,  that  it  is  well-known 

"  To  the  eyes  of  Him  Who  sees  everything." 






|O  make  known  what  esteem  and  love  Mary  Magdalen  bore  to 
the  Religious  state,  it  suffices  to  quote  what  she  very  often 
said  to  the  novices,  the  young  girls,  and  all  the  nuns,  the 
better  to  make  them  understand  the  excellence,  the  value, 
and  the  advantages  of  this  state.  She  was  wont  to  call  the 
Religion  (Religious  Life)  a  paradise  on  earth,  a  paradise  of 
delights,  the  garden  of  God ;  and,  comparing  it  to  the 
Heavenly  Fatherland,  she  would  point  out  how  there  is  in 
the  Religion  that  order  which  exists  between  God  and  the  angels  in 
heaven.  Very  beautiful  and  profitable  were  the  things  she  under 
stood  about  it  in  an  ecstasy,  and  the  similitudes  by  which  God  con 
descended  to  enlighten  her.  Once  it  seemed  to  her  as  if  she  saw  the 
Religious  state  under  the  figure  of  a  most  beautiful  virgin,  mysteriously 
clothed,  with  various  instruments  in  her  hands,  from  which  she  under 
stood  how  the  Religion  perfects  and  adorns  the  souls  dedicated  to  it. 
Another  time  it  appeared  to  her  under  the  figure  of  a  fountain  and  streams 
of  various  liquors,  and  she  understood  by  this  the  spiritual  tastes  that 
God  communicates  to  the  true  Religious.  She  also  saw  it  under  the 
figure  of  various  crossways,  and  she  understood  by  that  how  the  Religious 
Life  is  a  short  road  by  which  to  reach  heaven.  She  also  saw  it  under 
the  form  of  other  symbols,  which  would  take  too  long  to  enumerate. 

Both  in  her  ecstasies  and  out  of  them,  she  spoke  of  the  Religion 
with  expressions  of  the  highest  sublimity  and  deepest  gratitude.  After 
baptism,  she  deemed  the  grace  of  having  been  called  by  God  to  the  life 
of  the  cloister  as  the  greatest  of  all,  regarding  a  religious  vocation  as  the 
most  sublime  privilege  God  can  confer  upon  a  soul  after  having  washed 
her  in  the  baptismal  waters.  She  was  often  heard  to  say  that  she  would 
not  have  changed  her  condition  for  that  of  any  king  or  monarch  in 
the  world,  and  that  she  did  not  even  envy  the  angels  of  heaven,  as  the 
Religious  state  professes  to  imitate  the  Incarnate  Word  by  the  observance 
of  the  three  vows,  which  the  angels  cannot  do.  She  added  that  even  if 
she  were  to  be  used  as  the  dish-cloth  of  the  monastery,  she  would  regard 
it  as  a  greater  favor  than  the  possession  of  any  worldly  greatness  whatever, 
and  she  would  always  have  considered  herself  unworthy  even  of  that  office. 
Hence  she  often  used  as  an  ejaculatory  prayer  these  words  of  the  prophet 


David :  "7  have  chosen  to  be  an  abject  in  the  house  of  my  God,  rather 
than  to  dwell  in  the  tabernacles  of  sinners"  (Ps.  Ixxxiii,  n).  Hence, 
whenever  any  person  embraced  the  Religious  state,  she  felt  very  great  joy 
thereat,  especially  if  such  a  person  entered  an  order  of  strict  observance. 
The  least  order  of  the  Religion  she  held  in  high  esteem,  regarding  it  as 
written  and  ordered  by  the  Holy  Ghost;  and  she  made  much  of  all,  even 
the  most  simple  things  of  Religion,  and  would  not  permit  them  to  be 
criticised  in  the  least  in  her  presence,  nor  would  she  allow  any  levity  or 
scurrility  in  those  whom  the  religious  habit  covered.  A  novice  wonder 
ing  how  the  nuns  of  said  monastery  could  endure  its  fatigues  whilst  being 
nourished  with  coarse  and  unwholesome  food,  thus  spoke  the  Saint: 
"These  meals  are  sanctified  by  the  Religion,  and  God  places  in  them  a 
virtue  by  which  they  nourish  us  as  though  they  were  of  the  best  food  ; 
and  when  God  wants  otherwise,  He  will  provide,"  as  the  monastery  was 
so  poor  that  it  could  not  then  furnish  the  community  better  food.  If  any 
nun  became  sick,  or  grew  so  tired  as  to  be  unable  to  endure  some  labor 
prescribed  by  the  monastery,  she  would  suggest  to  her  to  beware  of 
blaming  for  it  the  mode  of  life  of  the  Religion,  but  rather  to  say  :  "  I,  on 
account  of  my  sins,  deserve  not  to  be  able  to  labor  in  the  Religion," 
thus  accepting  from  the  hands  of  God  with  equanimity  of  sentiment  both 
good  and  hard  living.  Likewise  she  could  not  endure  that  the  sisters 
in  attending  to  the  work  of  the  community  would  show  any  affected 
tiredness,  and  if  she  happened  to  notice  it  in  any  of  her  subjects,  she 
addressed  her  as  follows :  u  Dost  thou  think  Religion  must  be  obliged 
to  thee,  because  thou  didst  work  for  it  ?  I  tell  thee  that  thou  art 
obliged  to  Religion  that  makes  use  of  thee,  and  the  more  this  costs  thee, 
the  more  thou  shouldst  rejoice."  From  this  great  esteem  for  the  Reli 
gious  state  proceeded  in  her  a  very  particular  love  for  her  monastery; 
hence  she  loved  it  as  a  dear  mother,  and,  many  a  time  speaking  about  it, 
was  by  her  love  for  it  carried  into  ecstasy.  Often  she  repeated:  u  My 
Religion!"  and  being  one  day  asked  by  a  novice  why  she  called  it 
"hers,"  she  answered:  "Because  God  made  me  a  present  of  it,  and 
wants  me  to  keep  it ;  therefore  I  wish  it  to  appear  beautiful  and 
immaculate  in  the  sight  of  God."  Every  morning  in  her  prayers  she 
offered  her  monastery  to  the  Blessed  Virgin,  begging  her  to  keep  it  as 
she  kept  the  humanity  of  the  Incarnate  Word  and  her  own  purity. 
Sometimes  she  showed  her  predilection  even  for  the  cracked  walls  of  the 
monastery,  turning  to  them  with  these  words:  "Though  the  walls  of 
these  cells  are  half  ruined,  oh  !  how  good  and  dear  they  are,  for  they 
keep  us  separated  from  the  world  and  prevent  us  from  seeing  anything 
which  might  give  us  an  occasion  for  distracting  our  attention  from  God." 
She  tried  to  impress  as  much  as  she  could  in  the  hearts  of  the  nuns  the 
greatest  esteem  for  the  Religious  state,  and  the  most  loyal  affection  for 
their  monastery:  "Daughters,"  she  often  said  to  her  subjects,  "love 
the  Religion  as  a  dear  mother."  At  which  repetition  one  day  a  novice, 
being  almost  annoyed,  asked  her  the  reason.  The  Saint  thus  manifested 
it  to  her:  "  Because  it  is  of  no  use  to  possess  a  precious  gem  and  not  to 
know  its  value;  for,  not  knowing  this,  one  does  not  esteem  nor  love  it," 
signifying  that  such  exhortation  tended  to  make  them  know  and  esteem 
the  benefit  they  had  received  by  having  been  called  and  admitted  to  the 


Religion.  To  this  end  she  sometimes  reasoned  as  follows:  "If  we 
would  intimately  penetrate  the  dignity  of  our  soul  by  the  most  close 
union  it  has  contracted  with  the  Blessed  God  by  means  of  the  three 
solemn  vows, — as  a  little  country  shepherdess,  who,  having  been  raised 
by  a  very  powerful  king  to  the  royal  dignity,  dislikes  anyone  reminding 
her  of  her  former  state,  so  we  should  despise  permitting  ourselves  by  our 
own  thoughts  to  be  drawn  to  the  consideration  of  worldly  things ;  and 
knowing  that  we  have  been  made  Brides  of  the  King  of  the  universe,  to 
satisfy  our  craving  for  things  not  earthly  nor  corruptible,  we  should 
raise  ourselves  with  holy  pride  to  the  contemplation  of  the  everlasting 
riches  of  heaven."  She  also  said  to  her  novices:  u  As  you  are  called  to 
the  Religion,  you  are  called  to  serve  God,  to  serve  Whom  is  to  reign, 
and  to  take  part  now  on  earth  in  what  you  will  have  to  do  forever  in 
heaven,  viz.,  to  praise  and  bless  Him."  Teaching  them  the  manner  of 
loving  the  Religion,  she  told  them  that  this  is  done  when  one  obeys  and 
lovingly  fulfills  everything  that  the  Religion  orders  in  the  Rules  and 
Constitutions,  and  good  care  is  taken  of  everything. 

As  to  the  vows  of  the  Religion,  she  held  them  as  divine  things,  as 
privileges  and  benefits  most  singular,  which  the  Divine  Goodness  grants 
to  dearest  souls  as  a  treasure  and  a  prize  of  paradise,  and  she  loved 
them  as  the  bonds  of  union  of  the  souls  with  God,  as  roads  to  God,  as 
glories  of  God.  With  these  sentiments  she  spoke  of  them  on  every 
occasion,  taking  very  great  delight  in  seeing  herself  bound  by  them,  and 
stimulating  her  companions  to  do  the  same  on  their  part,  none  of  them 
ceasing  to  thank  the  benignity  of  the  Sovereign  God  for  the  special  grace 
of  the  Religious  vocation.  Every  day,  between  herself  and  God,  she 
renewed  her  vows.  She  once  had  in  an  ecstasy  this  beautiful  intelli 
gence  about  this  renewal,  which  she  thus  expressed:  u  Every  time  that 
the  promises  made  to  God  are  renewed,  a  renewal  of  union  with  God 
takes  place,  and  the  beloved  soul  acquires  more  or  less  union  according 
to  the  state  of  perfection  she  finds  herself  in,  and  the  charity  she  pos 
sesses.  This  renewal  of  the  vows  made  interiorly  by  the  soul  pleases 
the  Most  Holy  Trinity,  as  the  renewal  of  the  interior  complacency  the 
soul  experiences  in  herself  and  about  herself  by  this  offering  made  to 
God,  which  always  renews  the  delight  of  the  first  offering  with  a  new 
complacency  and  a  new  consolation.  It  pleases  Mary  as  much  as  if  she 
renewed  the  vow  of  purity.  It  gives  glory  to  the  angels,  as  they  see  the 
fulfillment  of  those  inspirations  which  we  receive  from  them.  It  exalts 
the  Saints,  as  they  see  their  Creator  followed  in  their  own  footsteps.  It 
gives  joy  to  the  Choir  of  the  Virgins,  who  sing  anew  the  new  canticle, 
seeing  that  perfection  increasing  which  they  practiced  with  so  much 
love  ;  and  their  glory  is  also  increased,  as  every  time  this  renewal  takes 
place,  their  feast,  so  to  say,  is  being  celebrated.  The  soul  acquires  very 
great  fruit,  as  grace  is  increased  in  her,  and  the  promises  made  are 
strengthened ;  a  new  peace  is  born  in  her,  and  a  new  union ;  and  the 
fruit  of  that  peace  appears  in  her  conversation  and  works.  Oh  !  of  what 
dignity  are  these  vows  and  promises  made  to  God  in  the  holy  profession, 
when  their  renewal  produces  so  many  worthy  fruits  !  Hence  we  should 
not  wonder  that  those  who  have  light  about  this,  O  Word,  as  the  Reli 
gion  of  Thy  Most  Holy  Name  [she  meant  the  Society  of  Jesus],  celebrate 



said  renewal  with  so  great  a  solemnity  and  feast.  If  the  people  of  the 
world  make  so  much  of  their  birthday,  or  the  day  when  they  are  invested 
with  some  dignity,  how  much  more  should  we  celebrate  the  day  on 
which  we  united  ourselves  to  God  by  so  close  a  tie  (which  can  never  be 
untied)  with  feast  and  spiritual  joy !"  If  this  intelligence  (though  per 
haps  the  result  of  the  enthusiasm  of  her  heart  more  than  of  the  heavenly 
revelation  which  it  closely  resembles)  is  a  valid  evidence  of  the  esteem 
and  love  which  she  entertained  for  the  Religious  vows,  let  us  now  see 
the  corresponding  facts,  that  is,  the  perfection  with  which  she  knew 
how  to  keep  these  three  solemn  promises. 





IISTER  MARY  MAGDALEN  was  a  model  of  true  obedience, 
as  nothing  was  wanting  in  her  that  was  required  for  the 
perfection  of  this  virtue.  Her  obedience  was  voluntary, 
pure,  prompt,  cheerful,  blind,  and  persevering.  It  was 
voluntary  not  only  by  reason  of  a  vow  spontaneously 
made,  but  also  because  she  never  needed  the  least  stimu 
lation  to  be  moved  to  obey.  She  fulfilled  the  commands  of 
others  as  if  they  proceeded  from  her  own  will ;  so  that  this 
very  facility  with  which  she  obeyed  was  a  source  of  grief  to  her,  as  she 
feared  she  would  earn  no  merit  for  it.  Hence  she  tried  at  least  to  con 
ceal  her  natural  tendencies,  pretending  to  enjoy  the  hardest  and  most 
tedious  labors,  and,  on  the  contrary,  to  be  annoyed  at  those  which 
pleased  her;  so  that  the  latter  being  forbidden  her  and  the  former 
demanded  of  her,  as  often  happened,  she  might  have  the  opportunity  of 
feeling  the  weight  of  obedience.  This  she  was  wont  to  call  a  "hidden 
capital,"  because  hidden  to  the  eyes  of  creatures  and  known  only  to  the 
eyes  of  God.  Moreover,  it  seemed  so  little  to  her  to  be  subject  to  the 
superiors,  that  she  would  place  herself  under  her  companions,  and  equals, 
and  even  inferiors.  Among  her  companions  she  selected  one  especially, 
Sister  Maria  Pacifica  del  Tovaglia,  to  whom  she  so  submitted  herself 
that  she  would  ask  permission  of  her  for  nearly  all  her  actions,  though 
necessary  and  commanded  by  the  Order.  This  she  practiced  because 
she  deemed  it  so  acceptable  to  God  to  act  for  obedience'  sake,  that  she 
did  not  wish  to  do  the  least  thing  without  actually  sacrificing  it  to  God 
by  means  of  this  virtue.  Hence,  when  she  could  not  have  the  above 
companion,  she  practiced  the  same  submission  to  anyone  present,  and 
sometimes  to  her  very  novices,  as  if  asking  their  approval  of  her  work. 
When  working  in  the  kitchen  with  the  lay-sisters,  she  was  humble  and 
resigned  to  obey  them  no  less  than  she  would  teachers  and  superiors. 
She  was  likewise  always  very  obedient  and  of  one  mind  with  those  she 
had  as  companions  in  the  performance  of  certain  duties,  never  permitting 
herself  to  contradict  them  in  the  least.  She  called  that  day  a  lost  one 
when  she  did  not  break  her  own  will  or  submit  it  to  someone  by  obedi 
ence  to  this  end.  She  thought  it  was  better  to  live  in  the  Order  than 
in  solitude;  and  she  used  to  say,  that  though  the  state  of  solitude  is  one 
of  great  perfection,  nevertheless  she  would  always  have  preferred  to  live 


in  the  Order,  as  there  is  always  an  opportunity  to  give  death  to  one's 
self,  by  means  of  the  abnegation  of  one's  will  through  the  perfect  practice 
of  obedience. 

If  pure  obedience  is  that  which  makes  one  act  without  regard  to  any 
earthly  interest,  human  respect,  or  self-love,  but  solely  to  please  God,  such 
undoubtedly  was  Mary  Magdalen's  obedience.  Whilst  she  concealed  from 
the  eyes  of  creatures  the  hardships  of  obedience,  that  the  most  arduous 
things  might  be  imposed  on  her,  it  is  clearly  seen  that  in  obeying  she 
sought  nothing  but  to  please  God,  to  whom  alone  her  sufferings  were 
known,  that  her  obedience  might  be  truly  pure.  She  was  wont  to  say, 
for  her  own  and  others'  instruction,  that  she  never  looked  at  the  person 
who  gave  the  order,  and  to  her  it  made  no  difference  if  the  superioresses 
were  kind  or  rude,  holy  or  faulty,  because  in  all  she  always  saw  God  Whom 
she  obeyed.  Hence  she  obeyed  with  full  will  and  great  delight,  think 
ing  she  obeyed  God,  Whom  she  desired  to  please  in  all  things  ;  and  all  the 
creatures  who  ordered  her  to  do  services,  she  deemed  as  God's  vicars. 
The  manner  of  obedience,  viz. ,  to  see  God  purely  in  the  person  com 
manding,  she  gave  assurance  to  be  the  most  efficacious  means  to  profit 
in  religious  perfection  and  in  all  the  holy  virtues ;  hence,  in  the  fervor 
of  her  devotion  speaking  to  the  novices,  she  promised  that  the  soul  that 
was  convinced  that  the  superioress  stands  in  the  place  of  God,  and  what 
ever  she  ordered  and  said  was  ordered  and  said  by  God  through  her  lips, 
had  obtained  from  God  the  following  five  particular  graces:  "ist,  that, 
through  her  faith,  God  would  communicate  Himself  more  to  that  superior 
and  that  subject  having  such  conviction ;  ad,  that  all  things  imposed 
by  obedience  would  be  equally  acceptable,  both  the  pleasant  and  the  un 
pleasant  ones ;  3d,  that  the  heart  of  that  subject  would  always  enjoy 
peace  and  tranquillity,  and  feel  a  contentment  and  great  interior  sweet 
ness  ;  4th,  that  such  a  subject  would  be  more  apt  to  help  the  Holy 
Church  by  prayer,  as  Jesus  hears  the  prayers  of  the  obedient,  and  the 
most  obedient  will  be  granted  everything  they  ask  ;  5th,  that  of  these 
souls  God  makes  a  crown  to  Himself,  because  as  the  crown  manifests 
the  greatness  of  a  king,  so  they  honor  and  glorify  God  in  all  their 
works. ' '  Free  in  her  obedience  from  every  shadow  of  self-love,  not  only 
was  she  more  willing  to  do  the  will  of  others  than  her  own,  but  she  was 
always  ready  to  postpone  every  work  of  spiritual  satisfaction  in  favor  of 
obedience ;  because,  she  was  wont  to  say,  when  the  superiors  forbid 
austerities,  penances,  and  prayers,  it  is  self-love  not  to  want  to  obey.  On 
account  of  pure  obedience,  she  esteemed  humble  and  lowly  things  imposed 
by  others  more  than  those  of  great  perfection  done  by  one's  own  will. 

Her  obedience  was  also  prompt  and  cheerful.  No  sooner  did  she 
come  to  know  the  will  of  her  superiors  than  she  undertook,  without  the 
least  delay  or  reply,  to  fulfill  it,  leaving  unfinished  any  other  thing  she 
might  then  have  been  doing.  Neither  were  words  of  command  required 
with  her ;  but  the  least  hint  .was  sufficient,  nay,  as  far  as  possible,  she 
tried  to  guess  and  foresee  the  very  wish  of  her  superioresses,  in  order  to 
anticipate  its  fulfillment.  Of  this  her  mistresses  and  the  prioresses  of 
those  days  several  times  rendered  testimony.  Not  only  was  she  never 
seen  sad  or  unwilling  in  obeying,  even  when  excessively  tired,  but  she 
obeyed  with  cheerful  countenance  and  spirit,  as  if  the  things  required 

236  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

of  her  would  be  to  her  greatest  liking ;  and  it  happened,  moreover,  that 
if  she  found  herself  pressed  by  some  internal  trouble  or  temptation  when 
anything  was  commanded  her,  she  was  resigned,  as  if  she  had  received 
a  marked  favor  from  Heaven.  Her  promptness  in  obeying  was  such 
that,  whilst  her  soul  was  raised  to  the  most  sublime  ecstasy,  at  the  voice 
of  her  superioress  she  either  immediately  came  out  of  it,  returning  to 
her  senses,  or,  still  ecstatic,  fulfilled  what  had  been  commanded  her. 
Sister  Vangelista  del  Giocondo,  who  nearly  all  the  time  presided  at  her 
direction,  noticed  several  times  both  the  one  and  the  other.  When,  in 
order  to  obey,  she  came  out  of  the  rapture,  as  soon  as  she  had  done  the 
work  commanded  she  returned  to  it  as  before  ;  and  the  nuns  also  noticed 
that,  whilst  she  was  in  ecstasy,  most  of  the  times  she  neither  heard  nor 
understood  any  other  voice  than  that  of  the  superioress.  The  two  fol 
lowing  cases  are  singularly  remarkable :  One  is  this,  that  Alessandro  de' 
Medici,  Archbishop  of  Florence,  afterwards  (as  we  have  seen)  Sovereign 
Pontiff  with  the  name  of  Leo  XI,  hearing  that  she  had  already  passed 
fifteen  days,  eating  but  thrice  during  all  that  time,  commanded  her  that 
she  should  never  let  twenty-four  hours  pass  without  taking  some  food. 
After  this,  during  her  long  ecstasies,  it  would  happen  that  when  this  time 
was  nearing  its  end  without  her  having  eaten,  she  would  come  to  her 
self,  take  something,  and  then  return  to  her  ecstasy.  The  other  case  wras 
the  ecstasy  in  which  she  remained  during  Holy  Thursday  and  Good 
Friday  of  the  year  1592,  participating  in  the  Passion  of  Christ,  when,  on 
the  approach  of  the  twenty-fourth  hour  of  her  fast,  turning  to  her 
Divine  Spouse,  she  thus  said  to  Him:  "O  Word,  Thou  shortenest 
my  time  by  obedience!"  And  a  little  afterwards,  returning  to  her 
senses,  she  took  some  bread  and  water.  Another  case  was  when  the 
confessor  of  the  monastery,  knowing  that  whilst  ecstatic  she  had  walked 
around  on  the  cornice  of  the  choir  without  any  support,  ordered  her 
that  in  future,  whenever  she  wanted  to  go  there  she  should  take  the 
ladder.  Hence,  being  one  day  carried  out  of  her  senses  by  the  burning 
desire  of  going  to  that  Crucifix,  as  soon  as  she  had  reached  the  choir, 
raising  her  eyes  to  that  devout  image,  she  remembered  the  obedience, 
and  said:  "One  must  go  by  the  instrument;"  and,  thus  ecstatic,  she 
went  for  a  ladder,  by  which  she  ascended  the  said  cornice. 

The  obedience  of  Mary  Magdalen  was  not  exterior  and  apparent 
only,  but  interior  and  from  her  heart,  that  is,  practiced  in  uni 
formity  of  will  with  the  person  commanding.  This  appears  not  only 
from  the  promptitude  with  which  she  obeyed,  but  also  from  her  not 
manifesting  any  opposition  to  or  displeasure  at  anything  which  was 
assigned  for  her  to  do.  Though  greatly  anxious  to  suffer,  she  did  not 
cease  praying  to  God  that  she  might  take  the  same  food  other  sisters 
did,  when  after  the  seven  years  she  had  passed  on  bread  and  water,  she 
was  ordered  by  obedience,  as  has  been  said,  to  pray  to  the  Lord  to  grant 
her  this  grace,  which  she  afterwards  obtained.  When,  being  sick  or 
convalescent,  some  delicate  food  or  other  things  were  ordered  her  to 
strengthen  her  body,  although  in  the  beginning  she  seemed  unwilling, 
no  sooner  was  it  imposed  on  her  to  do  it  by  obedience,  than,  without 
saying  a  word,  divested  of  all  self-love,  she  could  fully  and  from  her 
inmost  heart  submit  to  the  will  of  others,  as  to  that  of  God,  saying : 

ST.    MARY    MAGDALEN    DE-PAZZI.  237 

"Benedictus  Deus"  Never  did  she  advance  an  argument  to  change  the 
will  of  the  superiors,  to  which  she  always  conformed  herself,  deeming  it 
always  profitable  to  her  soul. 

Hence  the  obedience  of  Mary  Magdalen  had  also  the  other  quality 
so  much  appreciated  by  the  masters  of  spiritual  life,  viz.,  to  be  blind, 
that  is,  that  not  only  should  one  agree  with  the  will  of  the  superior  in 
doing  a  thing  commanded,  but  also  with  his  judgment,  reputing  it 
right  and  good/making  no  opposition  to  it,  nor  passing  judgment  con 
trary  to  the  same.1  This  our  Saint  practiced  with  sovereign  perfection, 
as  she  herself  manifested  when  instructing  her  disciples.  She  was  wont 
to  say  to  them  that  one  could  not  obey  perfectly  without  entirely  con 
forming  his  own  judgment  to  that  of  the  superior;  and  that  it  did  not 
seem  to  her  as  if  she  obeyed,  though  she  fulfilled  a  command,  unless  she 
had  previously  conformed  her  understanding  to  it.  Therefore,  when 
anything  was  commanded  of  her  which  was  contrary  to  her  inclinations, 
she  tried  her  best  to  invest  herself  with  the  feeling  and  judgment  of  the 
superioress,  as  much  as  possible,  by  judging  that  what  was  ordered  of 
her  was  the  best  for  herself  without  investigating  the  motive,  the  end, 
or  the  intention  ;  in  a  word,  without  as  much  as  thinking  over  it,  that 
no  particle  of  her  own  judgment  would  be  found  therein.  Of  this  sub 
mitting  her  own  judgment  to  others,  she  gave  wonderful  instances, 
especially  in  regard  to  the  things  God  ordered  her  in  her  ecstasies,  which, 
though  she  heard  so  distinctly  in  a  superhuman  manner,  she  never 
practiced  without  the  consent  of  the  superioress  or  the  spiritual  father ; 
and,  if  they  made  any  opposition,  the  humble  virgin  gave  up  her  own 
judgment  to  follow  that  of  those  persons  who  were  for  her  the  safest 
guide  to  eternal  truth.  She  totally  submitted  to  the  superiors  when 
they  imposed  on  her  to  conform  herself  to  the  common  food  and  habit. 
At  the  same  time,  she  doubted  not  but  that  it  was  the  will  of  God  that 
she  should  live  on  bread  and  water  only,  and  go  barefoot,  and  dressed  in 
the  humblest  tunic,  as  it  was  revealed  to  her  in  the  ecstasy,  and  as  after 
wards  God  Himself,  by  the  miracle  which  we  related  in  Chapter  XII, 
convinced  the  superiors  of  what  His  beloved  Bride  had  been  super- 
naturally  enjoined  to  do.  The  miracle  would  not  have  been  sufficient 
unless  the  superiors  had  manifested  their  own  condescension,  so  much 
did  she  prize  the  visible  direction  to  which  God  wants  the  human  creature 
to  submit.  Hence,  at  the  end  of  her  life,  she  felt  she  had  reason  to  be 
pleased  with  it,  saying  there  was  nothing  of  all  that  had  happened  her  dur 
ing  life  which  gave  her  more  peace  than  the  certainty  she  felt  of  having 
done  nothing  of  her  own  choice,  but  of  having  been  guided  in  every 
thing  by  the  will  and  judgment  of  her  superiors.  In  this  exercise  she  had 
attained  to  such  perfection  that  her  obedience  rather  than  blind  might  be 
called  dead,  as  her  reasoning  faculty,  when  it  was  a  question  of  obedience, 
was  as  if  extinct.  This  was  the  grace  she  so  much  wished  for,  and  so 
frequently  asked  during  her  ecstasies,  both  for  herself  and  for  religious 
souls,  viz.,  to  wish  for  nothing,  to  understand  nothing,  but  to  allow  her 
self,  as  dead,  to  be  led  by  the  hands  of  others.  In  this  state,  God  often 
showed  her  to  herself.  Mary  Magdalen  began  to  practice  her  religious 

1  Unless,  of  course,  it  would  be  evidently  wrong.—  Note  of  the  Translator. 

238  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

obedience  with  such  perfection  when,  on  the  very  day  she  put  on  the 
monastic  habit,  she  resigned  herself  as  dead  into  the  hands  of  the  prioress. 
It  being  extremely  difficult  to  judge  the  degree  of  perfection  she  had 
reached  in  this  by  constant  practice  during  her  entire  life,  God  mani 
fested  it  by  a  very  wonderful  action  He  permitted  to  the  Saint  when  she 
was  at  her  last  moment;  and  it  was  that,  being  just  about  to  breathe  her 
last,  she  was  commanded  that  by  obedience  she  should  wait  until  the 
father  confessor  had  said  Mass  and  given  Communion  to  the  nuns  ;  at 
which,  regaining  her  lost  speech  and  acquiring  new  strength,  she  satis 
fied  the  desire  of  others  in  spite  of  the  irresistible  force  of  death  which 
faced  her. 




]HE  fact  of  Mary  Magdalen's  having  consecrated  forever  to 
God  her  virginity  from  her  childhood,  and  her  having  de 
clared  shortly  before  her  death  that  she  knew  not  what  it 
was  that  stained  chastity,  are  two  things  which  imply  such 
and  so  great  a  perfection  that  our  mind  would  vainly  try  to 
find  any  traces  thereof  in  the  natural  forces  of  the  human 
creature.  There  is  nothing  in  the  order  of  nature  which  can 
bear  comparison  with  the  stainless  purity  of  this  Saint. 
The  whiteness  of  the  purest  snow,  that  of  the  purest  lilies,  the  clearness 
of  the  most  limpid  waters,  the  brightness  of  the  clearest  sky,  are  vile 
comparisons  for  the  purity  of  Mary  Magdalen.  When  her  parents  wanted 
to  make  an  earthly  bride  of  her,  she,  faithful  to  her  first  intention,  re 
sisted  them  with  so  strong  and  constant  a  will  that  she  concluded  to 
become  a  nun  without  delay,  in  order  to  remove  all  worldly  obstacles. 
The  very  strong  temptations  against  purity  which  she  endured  from  the 
evil  one  during  the  first  two  years  of  her  probation,  viz.,  from  the  year 
1585  to  the  year  1587,  served  but  to  confirm  her  in  her  resolution,  so 
that  they  became  to  her  rather  a  source  of  merit  and  a  crown.  At  the 
age  of  forty-two,  that  being  the  end  of  her  life,  with  great  complacency 
she  could  address  her  Divine  Bridegroom  in  these  words :  "Thou 
knowest  well,  O  my  Lord,  that  my  heart  has  never  wished  anything  but 
Thee."  And  repeating  these  words  several  times  to  solace  her  spirit  in 
the  fierceness  of  the  malady,  when  she  saw  all  the  sisters  present,  she 
thanked  God  also  with  great  joy  because  she  was  dying  without  know 
ing,  or  ever  having  known,  what  actions  against  chastity  were  or  how 
chastity  could  be  lost.  She  had  already  told  a  sister  who  was  her  con 
fidant  that  she  never  knew  what  the  devil  wanted  of  her  during  the 
impure  temptations,  and  that  she  had  fought  with  an  entirely  unknown 
enemy.  She  so  much  abhorred  everything  impure  that  she  had  cast 
away  her  enemy  before  the  temptation  had  actually  assailed  her;  and, 
though  she  felt  the  first  attack,  yet,  her  mind  and  will  being  wholly  free 
from  every  earthly  affection  and  fully  occupied  with  God,  she  could  not 
even  apprehend  the  aim  of  the  temptations.  Even  from  these,  after  a 
two  years'  struggle,  she  was  delivered  by  the  Blessed  Virgin,  who 
miraculously  covered  her  with  a  white  veil,  so  that,  like  St.  Thomas 

240  THE    UFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

Aquinas,  by  a  most  special  privilege,  she  was  not  again  tempted  during 
her  lifetime  by  the  least  thought  or  suggestion  contrary  to  purity,  but  had 
become  in  regard  to  this  like  a  statue. 

So  great  a  purity  endowed  even  her  exterior  with  something  super 
human.  Her  looks,  her  gestures  were  so  graceful,  grave,  modest, 
benign  that  they  caused  good  and  chaste  thoughts  in  those  who  looked 
at  her.  Her  very  body  when  she  was  still  living  exhaled  such  an  odor 
(called  by  the  nuns  odor  of  purity)  that  it  greatly  excited  affection  for 
holy  purity.  The  same  nuns  attested  that  during  the  last  three  years 
that  Mary  Magdalen  was  sick  in  her  cell,  which,  by  its  disadvantageous 
situation  and  the  continuous  exhalations  of  a  diseased  body,  should  have 
become  a  source  of  disgusting  and  nauseating  smell,  nevertheless,  was 
always  full  of  that  good  odor  which  constantly  came  out  of  her  limbs  and 
also  diffused  itself  to  her  habit  and  the  bed-covers.  Her  words  were  so 
powerful  to  inspire  purity  that  they  never  fell  in  vain  upon  the  souls  of 
those  who  heard  them.  During  her  ecstasies,  she  was  given  very  high 
ideas  of  this  virtue,  and  she  manifested  them  in  the  most  wonderful  and 
winning  ways,  as  we  shall  see  in  her  Works,  in  Part  Second. 

She  was  also  wont  to  manifest  with  feelings  of  evident  delight  that 
the  Lord  had  granted  her  from  her  most  tender  years  a  particular  love 
and  wish  for  purity ;  and  that  she  wished  to  attain  as  much  purity  as 
one  can  have  in  this  life,  and  that  to  increase  this  virtue  in  herself  she 
would  endure  any  pain.  Through  love  of  this  virtue  she  held  the 
virgins  in  great  honor  and  reverence,  and  treated  the  girls  especially 
with  excessive  marks  of  respect ;  so  much  so  that  one  of  them  who  had 
come  on  trial  to  the  monastery  suspected  that  all  the  ceremonies  of 
Sister  Mary  Magdalen  might  not  be  sincere,  but  she  finally  felt  much 
amazed  and  thankful  when  she  knew  that  the  Saint  intended  thereby  to 
honor  virginity.  Thus  the  more  of  sweet  delight  the  conversing  with 
such  persons  caused  her,  the  more  disagreeable  and  annoying  it  was  to 
her  to  treat  with  persons  settled  in  the  world.  She  said  openly  that  she 
felt  more  love  and  sympathy  for  the  unmarried  than  for  the  married 
ones,  though  the  latter  might  be  more  upright  and  virtuous  in  ful 
filling  their  duties.  But  notwithstanding  these  natural  tendencies  to 
purity,  and  the  most  singular  privileges  with  which  God  endowed  her, 
Mary  Magdalen,  deeming  herself  a  person  of  easy  capture  and  exposed  to 
the  gravest  dangers,  used  to  guard  herself  with  such  austerity  of  man 
ners,  greater  than  which  could  not  have  been  practiced  by  the  most 
wicked  sinner,  who,  placing  herself  at  the  feet  of  Christ,  begins  with  the 
greatest  fervor  to  enter  the  path  of  justice.  To  throw  herself  naked 
among  thorns,  like  Saint  Benedict,  is  such  an  act  that  it  suffices  of  itself 
to  show  the  force  of  her  zeal  for  the  preservation  of  holy  purity.  To 
protect  this  virtue  she  employed  as  the  most  efficacious  means  the  fre 
quenting  of  the  Eucharist ic  Sacrament,  prayer,  devotion  to  the  Mother 
of  Virgins,  abstinence  from  even  the  lawful  pleasures,  fasting,  and,  above 
all,  fleeing  from  all  occasions  of  seeing,  hearing,  or  treating  of  things 
which  might  furnish  the  least  incentive  to  impurity.  Hence,  regarding 
the  cloistered  life  as  the  greatest  boon,  often  transported  by  a  live  and 
grateful  enthusiasm,  she  blessed  and  kissed  with  great  warmth  the  walls 
of  the  monastery,  and  answered  the  nuns  who  sometimes  asked  her  the 

She  fiercely  scourges  herself  before  the  Crucifix  (page  191). 


motive  for  so  doing:  "  Don't  you  think,  sisters,  that  I  have  great  reason 
for  doing  so  ?  These  holy  walls  separate  me  from  the  wretched  world,  and 
render  more  safe  the  most  esteemed  treasure  I  possess  on  earth"  (by 
which  she  meant  her  virginity).  And  sometimes  she  exclaimed  with  great 
feeling:  "Oh !  if  the  people  of  the  world  understood  how  great  is  the 
sweetness  that  in  the  blissful  life  is  prepared  for  those  who  always  remain 
virgins,  they  would  run,  like  thirsty  deer  to  the  fountain,  to  immure 
themselves  in  the  most  austere  Religions,  so  as  to  preserve  their  purity 
intact,  for  safer  is  the  vineyard  the  more  surrounded  it  is  by  thorny 
hedges."  One  day,  while  in  ecstasy,  she  said  that  the  Religious  ought 
to  be  as  distant  with  the  lay  people  as  the  deer ;  for  which  Jesus  would 
be  much  pleased.  Thus  did  she  act  very  particularly;  not  that  she 
would  be  rude  and  impolite  in  her  dealing  even  with  lay  people,  well 
knowing  how  to  couple  gravity  with  sweetness  and  religious  modesty; 
but  she  was  never  familiar  with  any  person  outside  the  monastery, 
neither  by  conversing  nor  by  writing,  no  matter  of  what  condition  or 
how  virtuous  such  a  person  might  be.  Nothing  short  of  an  explicit 
order  of  obedience  was  required  to  bring  her  to  the  parlor ;  and,  as  often 
as  she  had  to  go  there,  she  went  against  her  will,  so  much  so  that  on 
account  of  this  she  often  could  not  restrain  her  tears,  especially  when  she 
was  called  there  by  worldly  people,  who  to  the  eyes  of  the  true  follower 
of  Christ  cannot  be  but  objects  of  commiseration  and  sadness.  She  was 
wont  to  say  that  for  the  time  she  remained  at  the  parlor  grates  she 
would  have  more  willingly  remained  in  the  fire  of  purgatory  ;  as  in 
those  persons  she  could  only  see  occasions  of  trouble,  cares,  distractions, 
temptations,  and  danger  of  offending  God.  Whilst  mistress  of  novices, 
if  called  to  the  parlor,  she  would  say  to  them :  "Novices,  pray  to  God  for 
me,  as  I  am  called  to  the  grates,"  and  expressed  to  them  the  wish  that 
they  might  find  some  motive  to  soon  recall  her  thence.  On  account  of 
this  so-openly-declared  repugnance  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  the  nuns 
had  accustomed  themselves  not  to  tell  her  to  go  down  to  the  parlor, 
except  in  cases  of  grave  importance,  relating  to  her  those  of  less  impor 
tance,  that  she  might  pray  to  God  about  them,  and  no  more.  Frequently 
people  asked  for  her  to  entrust  to  her  their  affairs.  She  also  felt  a  re 
pugnance  at  receiving  letters,  and  never  answered  them  unless  compelled 
by  obedience.  lyudovico  Capponi,  her  relative,  having  recommended 
some  of  his  affairs  to  her,  and  manifested  in  several  ways  his  desire  for 
a  prompt  answer,  could  not  get  it  until  the  command  of  the  father  con 
fessor  intervened.  As  to  her  writing,  it  was  short,  simple,  spiritual, 
without  ceremonies  or  affected  words.  Here,  too,  and  for  the  same 
reason  as  the  aforesaid,  most  of  her  letters  were  communicated  to  her  in 
a  general  way  by  the  superioress,  who  would  likewise  answer  them. 
Thus  the  Saint  in  this  also  kept  aloof  from  external  communications ; 
and,  in  so  doing,  she  greatly  satisfed  her  wishes,  holding,  as  she  did,  that 
it  was  not  becoming  a  Religious  Bride  of  Jesus  to  have  any  dealings  out 
side  the  monastery,  or  to  write  and  receive  letters,  the  reading  of  which 
recalls  to  the  mind  the  things  of  the  world. 

Such  a  retirement  from  the  world  proceeded  also  from  that  sovereign 
purity  of  her  heart  by  which,  even  in  the  monastery,  she  kept  in  soli 
tude,  and  especially  shunned  every  carnal  affection.  To  this  all  her 


companions  were  able  to  bear  witness,  and  she  said  during  the  last  days 
of  her  life  that  she  never  felt  the  least  attachment  to  any  creature.  On 
account  of  this  love  of  purity,  she  would  not  allow  others  to  show  her 
excessive  kindness.  Hence,  whilst  yet  a  secular,  noticing  that  her  mother 
was  too  much  attached  to  her,  and  that  on  this  account  she  opposed 
her  choosing  the  monastic  state,  Magdalen  did  all  she  possibly  could 
to  detach  her  from  herself.  In  Religion,  if  any  of  her  novices  became 
too  much  attached  to  her,  she  dealt  with  her  with  such  severity  of 
manners  that  the  novice  felt  compelled  either  to  give  up  or  to  spiritualize 
her  affection  altogether.  Moreover,  she  never  touched  anyone,  neither 
did  she  permit  others  to  touch  her;  and,  outside  of  the  excesses  of  the 
love  of  God  by  which  she  was  sometimes  forced  to  take  her  companions 
by  the  hand  to  invite  them  to  love  God,  she  abhorred  even  the  simple 
touch  of  the  hand,  face,  and  the  like,  which  worldly  politeness  requires, 
and  which  she  always  deemed  unbecoming  Religious  persons.  During 
her  last  illness,  being  unable  to  move  herself,  and,  therefore,  in  need  of 
being  occasionally  moved  by  the  sisters,  she  said  and  repeated  to  them 
the  following  words,  which  also  confirm  how  she  was  ignorant  of  any 
thing  which  may  actually  contaminate  chastity.  "Sisters"  (said  she), 
"if  you  think  that  to  touch  me  in  this  way  may  be  against  purity,  let 
me  alone,  as  I  will  gladly  remain  in  this  torment  and  permit  the  worms 
to  eat  me  up  on  this  side."  So  great  was  the  love  she  bore  the  angelic 
virtue ! 

Finally,  she  deemed  as  very  useful  to  preserve  the  virginal  purity 
never  to  speak  nor  think  of  worldly  and  secular  things,  so  that,  except 
in  cases  of  charity,  she  did  not  want  to  know  anything  of  the  events 
of  the  world.  This  method  she  had  adopted  for  herself;  she  also  wished 
it  employed  likewise  by  her  companions,  to  whom  she  often  said:  "  Re 
member,  sisters,  that  you  are  consecrated  to  God,  and  that  you  must  not 
care  for  others  but  for  Him,  and  try  to  please  Him  alone."  In  order  to 
lead  them  willingly  to  solitude,  she  would  make  them  reflect  that  the 
parlor  is  a  cause  of  such  distraction  that  a  Religious  could  never  leave 
it  without  having  afterwards  to  spend  a  great  deal  of  time  in  removing 
from  her  mind  the  images  of  things  seen  or  heard,  at  least  those  in 
regard  to  her  own  peace.  Another  time,  enlightened  not  by  experience 
but  by  God,  she  said  that  the  discourses  of  seculars  often  darken  the 
white  lily  of  chastity;  and  she  took  great  delight  that  in  her  monastery 
there  was  a  general  abhorrence  for  the  parlor  and  dealing  with  the 
world.  Hence,  whenever  she  saw  a  novice  rejoicing  at  the  announce 
ment  of  some  secular  visit,  she  was  wont  to  say  to  her:  "  One  can  see, 
sister,  that  thou  hast  not  yet  become  entirely  ours,  as  it  is  customary 
with  the  nuns  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angel  i  to  grow  sad  and  not  to  rejoice 
when  they  are  called  to  the  parlor  grates."  If  any  other,  subject  to  her, 
would  fall  into  discourses  of  espousals,  marriages,  parties,  and  the  like, 
she  would  not  omit  to  correct  her  bluntly.  Thus  she  tried  to  lead  her 
disciples  and  companions  to  that  chastity  (which  she  possessed  in  a 
manner  more  angelical  than  human  and  which  appeared  so  markedly  in 
the  exterior  of  her  person)  by  suggesting  to  them  both  by  her  example 
and  by  her  words  the  opportune  means  of  successfully  preserving  a 
virtue  as  precious  as  it  is  frail  and  delicate. 




|UR  Redeemer  had  just  caressed  some  children  when  a  rich 
Hebrew  youth,  moved  by  a  certain  fire  of  devotion,  ran  to 
Him,  and,  kneeling  at  His  feet,  thus  asked  Him:  u Master, 
what  shall  I  do  to  possess  eternal  life  ?  "  Jesus  answered 
him :  "If  thou  wilt  enter  into  life,  keep  the  Commandments;'*'' 
and,  hearing  how  he  had  kept  them  till  then  and  yet  wished 
to  know  more,  added,  in  a  loving  tone  :  "If  thou  wilt  be  per 
fect,  go  and  sell  all  thou  hast  and  give  it  to  the  poor,  and  then 
follow  Me,  and  I  will  reward  thee  with  a  better  treasure  in  heaven  " 
(Matth.  xix,  16-21).  These  words  hint  at  the  generous  act  performed  by 
the  Apostles  in  leaving  all  earthly  things  to  follow  Christ,  and  at  the  act 
which  for  the  same  purpose  is  practiced  by  those  who  strengthen  their 
relinquishment  by  a  solemn  vow  of  poverty.  From  these  words  it  also 
appears  that  this  vow  may  be  called  the  compendium,  the  culminating 
point,  the  most  sublime  effort  of  human  perfection.  In  truth,  he  who, 
to  walk  in  the  way  of  the  Lord,  abandons  not  only  his  substance,  but 
every  affection  and  wish  for  it,  gives  during  life  the  most  solemn  and 
the  most  loyal  proof  of  his  love  for  God.  Thus  he  who  possesses  nothing, 
and  wishes  for  nothing,  can  be  but  wholly  God's. 

Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi  protested  to  God  every  morning  that  she 
would  exalt  holy  poverty  on  all  occasions.  Having  continually  before 
her  eyes  Jesus  Christ,  who  was  born  poor,  lived  poor,  and  died  naked  on 
the  cross,  she  loved  poverty  as  a  thing  divine,  and  attained  to  such  a 
degree  of  love  for  it  that  it  was  to  her  an  unbearable  torment  to  think 
that  the  Order  provided  for  her  above  the  strict  necessaries;  and,  on  the 
contrary,  she  greatly  rejoiced  when  deprived  of  something  necessary  to 
her.  Whilst  the  imperfect  Religious  are  wont  to  complain  of  their 
superiors  when  their  needs  are  not  so  promptly  satisfied  or  in  the  manner 
they  would  wish,  Mary  Magdalen,  on  the  contrary,  never  complained  of 
anything,  except  that  it  seemed  to  her  that  the  superioress  had  too  much 
thought  for  her.  For  which  (imagined  by  her  humility  rather  than 
founded  in  truth),  she  grieved  so  much  that  she  wept  bitterly  many  a 
time.  Because  what  was  strictly  necessary  was  not  wanting  to  her,  it 
seemed  to  her  as  if  she  did  not  keep  the  vow  of  poverty  ;  hence  she  often 
complained,  saying  that  after  having  professed  poverty,  she  should  have 


to  die  without  knowing  what  poverty  was;  so  that  the  superioresses,  in 
order  not  to  increase  her  grief,  often  abstained  from  manifesting  their 
loving  solicitude  for  her.  Sometimes,  being  more  inflamed  with  the 
love  of  this  virtue,  she  addressed  to  Heaven  these  words  :  "  O  my  God, 
why  dost  Thou  urge  me  so  much  to  be  poor  for  Thee,  seeing  that  it  is 
not  permitted  me  to  go  begging  my  bread  from  door  to  door,  which 
would  please  me  so  much?  Nay,  among  all  the  consolations  I  might 
experience  during  this  life,  this  would  be  the  greatest,  viz. ,  that  Thou, 

0  my  Jesus,  wouldst  grant  me  the  grace  that  I  might  die  upon  a 
cross  as  Thou  didst  die  for  me."     If  she  heard  of  any  poor  who  went 
begging,  she  was  filled  with  confusion  and  said  :   "They  are  not  bound, 
as  I  am,  to  observe  poverty,  and  yet  they  endure  so  many  inconveniences 
of  poverty  whilst  I  endure  nothing  ;"  and  here,  being  fired  by  holy  envy, 
she  added  :  "  Oh  !  if  it  were  given  to  me  to  go  begging,  and  that  when 

1  asked  alms  for  the  love  of  God,  contemptuous  words  would  be  said  to 
me,  and  that  in  bad  weather  I  should  return  home  tired  and  careworn 
and  without  any  comfort,  oh !  what  a  joy  mine  would  be  !     But  I  am 
not  worthy  of  it."     Exhorting  the  novices  and  her  companions  to  the 
love  of  poverty,  she  thus  expressed  herself:   "  Sisters,  we  will  be  able  to 
call  ourselves  truly  nuns  of  Santa  Maria  degli  Angeli,  if,  when  being 
tired  and  worn  out  in  the  evening,  instead  of  getting  any  rest  or  comfort, 
we  should  find  somebody  to  reprimand  us  and  give  us  the  discipline.    Oh ! 
what  a  grace,  what  a  privilege  it  would  be  for  us  if,  on  going  to  the 
refectory,  we  would  find  nothing  to  eat ;  being  in  need  of  rest,  we  would 
have  no  bed  to  rest  upon  ;  having  to  dress  or  change  our  clothes,  because 
of  the  poverty  of  the  monastery,  there  would  be  no  clothes  to  be  given 
us.     I,  for  one,  would  greatly  rejoice  at  it,  and  I  would  consider  myself 
bound  to  give  my  blood  for  the  person  who  would  grant  me  such  a  favor." 

She  did  all  she  could  to  be  deprived  even  of  the  necessaries  of  life, 
hiding  as  far  as  possible  her  own  needs ;  and,  if  she  succeeded  in  doing 
so,  her  joy  was  at  its  height.  One  day  by  an  oversight  of  the  sister- 
butler  no  bread  was  placed  before  her  at  table,  and  she  took  her  dinner 
without  asking  for  any ;  nay,  she  was  filled  with  so  much  joy  that  it  being 
noticed  outwardly,  the  superioress  in  the  recreation  hall  asked  her  the 
reason  of  such  excessive  pleasure.  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  as  if  accusing 
herself,  answered  that  she  felt  too  much  pleasure  at  not  having  received 
any  bread  for  dinner.  Thus  she  rejoiced  when  she  had  to  suffer  cold, 
thirst,  fatigue,  and  other  inconveniences  of  life.  Sometimes,  retiring  to 
the  poorest  places  of  the  monastery,  Crucifix  in  hand,  she  knelt  down, 
and,  turning  to  her  Lord,  with  tears  and  sighs,  she  gave  vent  to  her 
ardent  desire  of  living  stripped  of  everything  for  His  love.  "  Happy  I 
would  be"  (she  was  wont  to  say),  "  if  all  that  this  body  needs  would  be 
wanting  to  it;  and,  instead  of  being  gratified,  I  should  suffer  insults  and 
abuses  for  Thy  love,  O  my  Jesus !  Then  I  would  deem  myself  some 
what  poor  for  Thy  love." 

Like  St.  Francis  of  Assisi,  she  called  poverty  by  the  most  honorable 
and  endearing  names ;  ordinarily  she  called  it  the  Bride  of  Jesus,  adding 
that  it  should  be  the  best  ornament  of  His  Brides.  On  these  points  she 
entertained  very  sublime  ideas,  and  spoke  with  the  most  lively  feeling. 
The  fifth  night  of  the  octave  of  Pentecost,  in  1585,  during  that  ecstasy 


of  eight  continuous  days,  conversing  with  Jesus,  she  thus  expressed  her 
self :  u  Happy  those  who  follow  Thee  only  without  possessing  any  tran 
sitory  thing,  as  they  shall  have  Thee  for  a  reward,  Who  art  the  wealth 
of  every  wealth,  the  treasure  of  every  treasure,  and  the  infinite  wealth  of 
paradise!  But  who  shall  purchase  paradise?  Where  shall  sufficient 
money  be  found  ?  What  can  be  given  as  a  price  of  so  great  a  good  ? 
Who  would  believe  it  ?  The  nothingness,  the  nothingness  !  To  pos 
sess  nothing  for  the  love  of  God,  to  wish  for  nothing  of  this  world,  to 
wish  nothing  but  God  :  c  Dominus pars  hcereditatis  me&^ — *  The  Lord  is 
the. portion  of  my  inheritance1  (Ps.  xv,  5).  I  say  more:  Nay,  to  wish 
for  God  only  for  the  sake  of  God  !  O  most  sublime  and  most  rich 
poverty  !  Thus  those  who  are  poor  have  money  in  hand  to  buy  paradise, 
for  the  heavenly  treasures  are  purchased  with  absolute  poverty;  and 
the  poorer  a  soul  is,  the  more  God  infuses  His  treasures  into  it,  with 
which  it  can  purchase  heaven.  Who*  will  not  love  poverty,  which  causes 
God  to  grant  us  so  many  gifts  ?  ^Beati  pauper es  spiritu  ! ' — ( Blessed  are 
the  poor  in  spirit '  (Matth.  v,  3).  ( Quam  dilecta  tabernacula  tua,  Domine 
virtutum.  Concupiscit  et  deficit  anima  mea ' — *  How  lovely  are  Thy  tab 
ernacles,  O  Lord  of  hosts !  My  soul  longeth  and  fainteth  for  the  courts 
of  the  Lord  '  (Ps.  Ixxxiii,  23).  I  say  this  of  the  desire  of  heaven,  or  of 
the  desire  of  Thy  poverty,  which  is  worth  heaven  to  me,  as  by  it  Thou 
wishest  me  to  purchase  heaven,  and  it  is  the  price  sufficient  for  so  great 
a  kingdom."  In  another  ecstasy,  she  exclaimed  :  "  O  happy  Religious, 
who  are  so  honored  of  God  that  He  Himself  wishes  to  be  their  portion, 
because  for  His  love,  by  a  solemn  vow,  they  left  everything  else !  O  rich 
poverty  !  Thou  makest  us  the  possessors  of  the  Sovereign  Good  !  But, 
on  the  contrary,  woe  to  those  Religious  who  appropriate  anything, 
trafficking  with  it  as  if  they  were  not  bound  by  poverty  !  Alas !  that 
thus  they  come  to  renounce  their  part,  which  is  God,  wishing  for  and 
keeping  other  things  besides  Him,  contrary  to  the  promises  made  to 
Him.  But  God  grant  that  at  death,  when  judgment  shall  take  place 
before  God's  tribunal,  they  may  not  be  rejected  by  God  Himself,  and 
separated  from  Him  Who  is  the  Sovereign  Good  !  O  poor  Religious,  so 
blind  about  their  own  state !  O  simplicity  and  poverty,  declining  so 
much  among  the  Religious,  and  so  little  known  and  kept  by  those  who 
profess  thee !  God  knows  whether  this  blindness  will  deserve  any  excuse 
in  that  Divine  Judgment  where  not  only  faults  but  even  many  things 
that  we  regard  as  virtues,  will  appear  to  be  faults  and  vices." 

This  great  love  that  Sister  Mary  Magdalen  bore  to  the  poverty  she 
professed,  she  also  practiced  in  a  wonderful  manner  during  the  whole 
course  of  her  life,  showing  evidence  of  it  in  her  food,  clothing,  and  every 
thing  else  of  which  she  stood  in  need  about  her  person.  Not  satisfied 
with  having  chosen  a  monastery  of  wholly  common  life  and  strict 
observance,  she  always  endeavored  to  exceed  the  rigor  of  the  rule 
and  the  vows.  She  not  only  never  kept  nor  received  a  thing  super 
fluous  or  vain,  but  even  what  was  necessary  she  tried  to  reduce  to  the 
greatest  scarcity ;  or,  if  unable  to  diminish  it,  she  would  choose  the  vilest 
and  the  most  abject.  Of  this  ample  testimony  is  borne  by  those  ecstasies 
she  had  in  1587,  during  which  she  understood  how  God  wanted  from 
her  an  extraordinary  and  singular  poverty,  because  of  which  she,  whilst 

246  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

in  ecstasy,  cast  off  shoes  and  stockings,  threw  away  the  bed-clothing, 
leaving  only  the  straw-bed,  removing  from  her  cell  every  object  except 
the  Crucifix,  and  went  to  the  old-clothes  chest,  from  which  she  took  the 
meanest  and  most  patched  tunic  and  put  it  on.  After  that  she  would 
never  put  on  new  clothing ;  so  that,  in  her  person  and  in  her  cell,  she 
appeared  to  be  the  poorest  nun.  She  always  feared  that  she  might  pos 
sess  something  superfluous,  hence  she  often  cast  her  eyes  around  on  the 
things  she  had.  One  day  finding  on  her  little  altar  a  small  piece  of 
cloth  for  which  she  had  asked  in  order  to  mend  her  habit,  and  which 
afterwards  she  had  not  used,  she  brought  it  back  immediately  to-  the 
superioress,  accusing  herself  with  great  sorrow  for  such  a  negligence, 
and  begging  of  God  that  He  would  grant  her  time  to  atone  for  it.  At 
another  time,  out  of  two  dozen  pins  she  returned  one  dozen,  thinking 
she  had  more  of  them  than  she  needed. 

In  1588,  the  superioress,  Sister  Vangelista  del  Giocondo,  foreseeing 
that  Mary  Magdalen  would  pass  a  very  bad  winter  with  the  light  habit 
she  was  then  wearing,  determined  to  give  her  a  better  one  ;  and,  in 
order  that  she  might  not  grieve  on  that  account,  she  employed  this 
stratagem:  On  the  night  of  St.  John  the  Evangelist,  on  December  27th, 
after  matin,  in  the  presence  of  the  nuns,  she  called  the  Saint  out  to  the 
middle  of  the  choir,  and,  making  her  kneel  there,  told  her  that  the  better 
to  accustom  her  to  poverty,  she  wanted  her  to  take  off  her  tunic ;  and 
she  having  taken  it  off,  the  superioress  asked  the  nuns  whether  they 
were  pleased  that  another  tunic  should  be  given  to  her  for  the  love  of 
God ;  and  they  having  assented,  she  called  out  one  of  them,  and  making 
her  take  off  the  tunic,  she  offered  it  to  Mary  Magdalen,  telling  her: 
"  This  tunic  Religion  gives  to  thee  for  the  love  of  God  ;  put  it  on  and 
keep  it  until  thou  art  asked  for  it."  She  accepted  it  in  the  true  spirit  of 
poverty,  cordially  answering:  "May  God  reward  you  for  it;"  which 
greatly  touched  the  nuns  and  increased  their  love  for  religious  poverty. 

But  the  renouncing  of  property  and  of  one's  own  things  is  not 
always  an  evangelical  virtue.  Of  some  philosophers  we  read,  that  to 
throw  off  every  impediment  to  the  acquisition  of  wisdom,  they  gave 
away  all  they  had ;  but  theirs  was  not  the  perfect  virtue  shown  by  Jesus 
Christ,  the  principal  aim  of  which  is  to  detach  our  heart  entirely  from 
things  temporal,  from  things  necessary,  and  even  from  ourselves.  Thus 
Mary  Magdalen,  being  penetrated  by  this  spirit,  which  is  the  basis, 
the  foundation  of  the  vow  of  poverty,  regarded  the  habits  and  other 
necessary  things  as  objects  lent  her  by  charity,  ready  to  give  them  back 
at  the  least  hint,  loving  to  be  in  the  monastery  like  a  poor  wretch  and  a 
beggar,  received  and  kept  there  for  mercy's  sake.  To  show  in  a  few 
words  how  perfect  her  detachment  was,  let  these  words  suffice  which 
during  an  ecstasy  she  addressed  to  the  Crucifix  she  kept  in  her  cell:  "  O 
Word  Incarnate,  if  I  thought  that  the  keeping  of  Thy  image  would 
deprive  me  of  the  least  degree  of  glory  in  heaven,  I  would  give  it  up  at 
once."  She  seemed  to  have  no  attachment  but  for  that  Crucifix,  and 
she  was  ready  to  deprive  herself  even  of  it  at  any  moment.  Here  is  the 
true  poverty  of  spirit;  that  poverty  which,  raising  the  soul  to  the  bosom 
of  God,  makes  it  enjoy  beatitude  even  in  this  world. 

On  account  of  the  same  virtue  Mary  Magdalen  experienced  great 


delight  when  coarse  and  ill-dressed  food  was  given  her ;  and,  on  the  con 
trary,  she  tried  her  best  to  avoid  eating  delicate  food,  saying  that  it  did 
not  agree  with  her.  More  than  once  did  the  superioress  through  religious 
mortification  send  her  around  the  refectory  to  ask  bread  of  the  sisters 
and  to  eat  it  at  onfce,  and  Mary  Magdalen  used  to  do  this  with  indescrib 
able  joy.  It  also  happened  many  times  that,  having  been  prevented 
from  sitting  at  the  first  table  with  the  nuns,  she  went  to  the  kitchen, 
where  she  caused  what  others  had  left  to  be  gathered  into  a  bowl,  saying 
she  wished  it  for  a  poor  little  one;  and  similar  other  contrivances  of  the 
love  of  poverty  were  suggested  to  her  by  the  zeal  which  moved  her  to 
the  most  perfect  imitation  of  her  Divine  Spouse  naked  and  crucified. 

As  she  well  understood  the  welfare  of  the  Religious  derived  its 
greatest  strength  from  the  observance  of  the  vow  of  poverty,  she  omitted 
no  care  that  her  monastery,  which  she  loved  with  a  most  warm  and  loyal 
feeling,  might  be  distinguished  in  a  singular  manner  by  its  poverty  and 
religious  simplicity  ;  hence,  whenever  she  noticed  anything  having  a 
tendency  to  alter  it,  she  immediately  informed  the  superioresses  and  the 
spiritual  fathers  of  it,  warmly  begging  them  to  provide  a  remedy.  One 
of  her  novices  had  worked  some  figures  with  unusual  ornaments,  to  pre 
sent  them  to  her  relations  outside.  The  zealous  mistress  reproached 
her,  and  would  not  permit  her  to  let  seculars  see  them,  much  less  to 
make  a  present  of  them.  A  nun  had  done  some  work  for  the  sacristy 
which  exceeded  the  usual  simplicity ;  and  the  Saint,  one  day  when  the 
spirit  of  God  kept  her  out  of  her  senses,  seized  and  tore  them.  In  an 
ecstasy  during  which  she  understood  how  much  this  simplicity  pleased 
God,  and  how,  like  a  watch-dog,  it  discovers  the  thieves  and  enemies  of 
the  Religion,  and  keeps  the  seculars  away  from  it,  making  the  Religious 
communities  the  dwellings  of  God,  she  finally  concluded :  "  L,et  each  one 
guard  herself  and  take  care  not  to  draw  on  herself,  under  the  plea  of 
compassion,  the  curse  of  some  vanity.  Woe,  a  thousand  times  woe  to 
her  who  will  draw  the  curse  of  vanity  on  Religion,  and  especially  where 
a  little  light  of  simplicity  reigns  ! "  This  was  her  saying :  ' '  Let  the  nun 
who  loves  not  poverty  be  shunned  and  considered  as  if  afflicted  with 

Her  ears  could  not  endure  any  criticism  of  the  things  of  Religion, 
and  she  thought  that  the  poorer  and  more  abject  these  things  were,  the 
more  they  ought  to  be  esteemed  and  sought  after  by  the  Religious,  because 
they  had  professed  poverty,  and  the  poor  appreciated  everything,  know 
ing  that  precious  and  valuable  things  were  not  for  them.  She  was  wont 
to  say  :  "  She  that  loves  humility  and  poverty  will  never  waste  words 
to  complain  of  anything."  She  also  used  to  say:  "She  that  professes 
poverty  always  thinks  of  the  poor  Christ,  and  thinks  as  little  of  her 
body  as  the  king  does  of  the  cobweb,"  and,  turning  to  those  who  com 
plained  of  anything,  she  used  to  say  bitterly:  "  Remember,  sisters,  that 
you  profess  poverty,  and  that  when  the  poor  people  go  begging,  they  are 
very  glad  to  get  a  piece  of  bread,  even  if  it  be  dry  and  stale. "  Moreover, 
she  asserted  that  poverty  must  be  the  mark  of  all  religious  works ;  and 
that,  as  the  people  of  the  world,  in  order  to  distinguish  and  magnify 
their  works,  imprint  their  coat-of-arms  on  them,  so,  in  order  to  make 
the  works  of  religious  persons  easily  recognizable,  they  must  be  marked 


with  poverty.  Hence,  she  wanted  this  poverty  to  shine  in  everything 
in  and  out  of  the  monastery,  viz.,  that  whatever  was  in  it  or  came  out 
of  it  should  wholly  appear  as  the  product  of  a  poor  religious  house. 
Though  on  account  of  the  charitable  feeling  she  entertained  for  the  sick 
she  would  have  wished  that  the  Order  should  sacrifice  itself,  so  to  say, 
for  them,  nevertheless  she  wanted  that  even  in  the  infirmary  poverty 
should  be  kept,  and  that  the  difference  between  a  sick  Religious  and  a 
secular  sick  person  should  be  manifest.  Likewise,  though  she  was  very 
anxious  that  nothing  needful  should  be  wanting  to  her  disciples,  she 
would  not  tolerate  seeing  them  have  anything  superfluous,  and  made 
them  practice  poverty  on  every  occasion.  If  one  of  them  betrayed  too 
much  attachment  to  any  object  she  possessed  for  her  own  use,  she  took 
it  away  from  her,  or  gave  her  another  in  its  place ;  and,  often  looking 
through  their  cells  and  little  altars,  she  would  remove  whatever  she 
found  to  be  superfluous  or  too  much  ornamented,  saying  that  the  observ 
ance  of  poverty  was  incompatible  with  superfluity  and  vanity.  She  took 
from  a  novice  a  pair  of  paper  angels  which  she  herself  had  painted, 
simply  because  the  extremities  were  somewhat  ornamented.  She 
severely  reprimanded  another  who  would  not  wear  a  veil  because  she 
did  not  like  it,  and  imposed  on  her  that  for  sixteen  days  she  should 
present  herself  to  her  begging  her  for  the  love  of  God  to  give  her  the 
most  worn-out  veil  that  was  in  the  novitiate.  She  would  cause  some  of 
the  oldest  habits  to  be  given  to  some  who  were  anxious  to  have  new 
ones,  thus  exercising  the  novices  in  the  holy  vow  of  poverty,  the  spirit  of 
which,  more  by  her  marked  example  than  by  her  voice,  she  transfused 
into  the  souls  of  her  subjects  and  companions,  so  that  her  monastery 
made  wonderful  strides  in  the  observance  of  so  essential  a  duty. 








]HE  solemn  vows  which  a  Religious  person  makes  are  denned 
by  the  statutes  of  each  regular  Congregation,  so  that  the 
persons  professing  are  bound  to  keep  the  vows  according  to 
the  Rules,  Constitutions,  and  practices  of  the  Religion 
whose  habit  is  worn  by  them ;  hence,  he  or  she  who  breaks 
the  vows  breaks  the  laws  of  his  or  her  monastery.  Mary 
Magdalen  held  in  the  highest  esteem  even  the  least  rule, 
which  she  would  not  have  broken  for  all  the  treasures  and 
honors  of  the  world.  She  regarded  every  rule  as  the  will  of  God  and 
the  dictate  of  the  Holy  Ghost.  Unless  prevented  by  sickness  or  works 
of  her  office,  it  was  simply  impossible  for  her  to  omit  being  present  at 
an  act  of  the  community.  Even  the  usages  and  practices  of  the  monas 
tery  had  upon  her  soul  the  force  of  law.  If  she  could  do  no  better,  at 
least  she  tried  to  stay  a  few  minutes  with  the  community,  thus  gather 
ing,  as  she  was  wont  to  say,  a  little  of  that  merit  which  to  the  rest  was 
given  to  enjoy  in  full.  When  she  was  wholly  prevented  from  attending, 
she  tried  to  make  up  by  the  desire  and  by  humbling  herself  before  God 
and  confessing  herself  unworthy  to  take  part  in  that  observance.  During 
the  night  or  at  an  extraordinary  time  she  did  the  works  of  her  choice  or 
of  charity,  in  order  to  be  ready  to  do  those  prescribed  by  the  Rule ;  so 
that  the  superioress  sometimes  seeing  her  very  much  fatigued,  out  of 
compassion  for  her  would  tell  her  to  give  up  her  work  at  once  and  rest 
herself;  but  she  never  accepted  such  a  dispensation  unless  compelled 
by  obedience.  In  order  that  this  might  not  happen,  she  tried  her  best 
to  hide  her  fatigue  and  needs. 

Silence  was  for  her  one  of  the  principal  points  of  religious  observ 
ance.  She  was  wont  to  say  that  a  soul  which  does  not  taste  the  sweet 
ness  of  silence,  can  never  taste  the  sweetness  of  the  things  of  heaven; 
nay,  that  it  will  live  always  afflicted  and  troubled,  as,  by  not  knowing 
how  to  restrain  the  tongue  many  evils  follow,  which  cause  the  soul  a 
great  deal  of  trouble.  In  regard  to  silence  she  was  most  observing,  and 
even  outside  of  silence  time,  she  was  singularly  moderate  in  speaking, 
and  always  did  so  in  a  low  and  subdued  voice,  saying  that  such  was  the 

250  "THE   LIKE   AND    WORKS   OF 

proper  way  for  Religious  persons  to  speak.     She  greatly  disliked  the 
raising  of  the  voice  and  loud  laughing,  as  things  most  unbecoming  a  nun. 

She  very  much  appreciated  the  observance  of  the  constitutions,  and 
when  she  thought  she  had  committed  some  fault  for  which  a  penance 
was  imposed  by  them,  she  performed  such  a  penance  without  wait 
ing  for  the  order  of  the  superioress,  protesting  that  she  would  have 
endured  any  torment  rather  than  to  see  the  least  prescription  of  the 
Religion  made  little  of.  Every  morning  she  offered  her  monastery  to 
the  Blessed  Virgin,  declaring  to  her  that  she  would  rather  be  a  firebrand 
of  hell  than  not  to  have  always  zeal  for  her  own  perfection  and  that  of 
all  her  companions  in  the  monastery.  Hence,  when  she  noticed  in  them 
some  transgression  of  the  rules,  if  able,  she  would  remedy  it  herself;  if 
unable,  she  would  have  recourse  to  the  superioresses  and  the  senioresses, 
that  they  might  watch  and  remedy  the  disorder,  saying  to  them  that  by 
neglecting  even  the  least  thing  concerning  the  holy  rules,  the  pupil 
of  the  eye  of  God  (which  is  the  Religion,  on  account  of  the  love  He 
bears  to  it)  was  offended. 

At  most  times,  the  busying  of  herself  in  behalf  of  others  was  intended 
to  render  them  more  prompt  to  attend  to  the  community  acts;  and,  to  her 
subjects  as  well  as  to  her  companions,  she  was  wont  to  give  this  advice: 
That  they  should  never  prefer  their  own  comforts  nor  their  other  actions, 
no  matter  how  devout  and  holy,  to  any  order  of  the  Religion,  "because," 
she  said,  "in  performing  the  common  acts  of  the  Religion,  we  are  sure 
of  God's  will,  of  which  we  cannot  assure  ourselves  when  working  accord 
ing  to  our  own  will  and  caprice;  nay,  we  then  expose  ourselves  to  a 
great  danger  of  deception  and  illusion."  She  added  that  they  were 
really  in  great  danger  of  being  deceived  by  the  devil,  who,  in  order  to 
remain  in  retirement  and  pray  at  their  will,  do  not  care  to  attend  the 
exercises  of  the  community,  and,  being  deprived  of  their  satisfaction, 
they  grieve  at  it,  for  which  they  injure  the  religious  observance,  which 
cannot  be  kept  if  the  sisters  do  not  exercise  themselves  in  it  with  fidelity 
and  solicitude.  She  also  advised  that  every  one  should  attend  the  com 
munity  practices  with  as  much  zeal  as  if  she  alone  were  bound  to  keep 
them,  and  be  ready  to  give  up  her  blood  and  her  life  rather  than  allow 
the  least  loosening  of  the  rule  and  the  constitutions  of  the  monastery. 
But  the  keen  vigilance  of  her  spirit  not  being  satisfied  with  the  present, 
she  exerted  all  her  efforts  to  obtain  the  perpetuation  of  this  observance 
in  her  monastery,  and  she  said  that  such  an  observance  and  nothing  else 
should  be  the  legacy  each  one  dying  should  leave  to  her  surviving 

Though  the  monastery  of  St.  Maria  degli  Angeli  proceeded  with 
great  regularity  and  exactness  in  the  fulfillment  of  its  duties,  never 
theless  the  Saint,  on  account  of  the  great  zeal  she  possessed  concerning 
the  religious  perfection  and  the  glory  and  pleasure  given  to  God  by  a 
monastery  aspiring  to  the  most  perfect  observance,  entertained  a  strong 
desire  to  perfect  also  its  rules  and  to  add  some  reform  to  the  constitution. 
One  might  also  take  this  mania  for  reforming  which  fills  the  soul  of  nearly 
all  persons  of  singular  piety  for  a  subtlety  of  self-love,  but  in  reality  it  is 
a  natural  consequence  of  the  greater  knowledge  they  have  of  the  duties, 
the  imperfect  correspondence  to  them,  and  the  importance  of  often 


recalling  things  to  their  first  principles,  that  they  may  not  be  spoiled,  viz., 
returning  to  the  spirit  of  the  lawmaker,  in  which  true  and  legitimate 
reform  consists.  Macchiavelli,  even  in  the  political  laws,  proposes  and 
recommends  it  to  enlightened  men ;  and  shall  it  not  be  the  desire  of 
the  good  that  this  may  obtain  in  regard  to  God's  law  of  which  the  many 
passions  of  the  wicked,  and  the  discouragements  of  the  imperfect,  op 
pose  the  proper  fulfillment  ?  But  in  a  matter  of  so  great  importance  and 
delicacy,  Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi  did  not  fail  to  have  persistent  recourse 
to  God,  Who  afterwards  was  pleased  to  reveal  to  her  some  points  which 
He  would  like  to  have  inserted  in  the  constitutions.  Of  these,  some  were 
by  her  uttered  in  an  ecstasy  and  taken  down  by  the  nuns,  and  others 
she  wrote  with  her  own  hands ;  and,  being  near  death,  she  called  to  her 
self  the  father  director  and  confessor,  Rev.  Vincenzo  Puccini,  and  to  him 
she  gave  a  memorandum  of  all  the  things  that,  by  the  will  of  God,  were 
to  be  added  to  the  constitutions,  and  warmly  begged  him  to  unite  them 
and  coordinate  them  with  the  same.  This,  he  having  promised,  was 
done  after  her  death  with  the  consent  of  the  chapter  of  the  monastery; 
and  this  reform  was  in  1609  confirmed  with  a  special  brief  by  the  Sov 
ereign  Pontiff  Paul  V.  To  dispose  the  nuns  to  a  stricter  observance,  she 
often  addressed  to  them  the  most  cogent  reasons,  and  she  would  exact 
from  the  novices  before  their  profession  a  promise  concerning  this  matter. 
This  zeal  of  Mary  Magdalen  was  not  restricted  to  her  own  monastery 
alone,  but  embraced  all  the  Religions,  wishing  to  see  them  all  in  the 
highest  fervor  and  purity  of  discipline  in  which  they  were  begun  by 
their  founders.  If  unable  to  assist  others  proximately  with  her  work, 
she  offered  to  God  for  them  the  most  fervent  prayers  and  presented  her 
self  to  Him  ready  to  endure  any  pain  whatsoever  that  they  might  resume 
their  original  fervor.  She  was  wont  to  shed  copious  and  bitter  tears  on 
account  of  the  relaxation  of  the  Religions,  and  she  even  said  that  she 
would  not  mind  being  considered  crazy  if  she  could  have  gone  around 
the  world  to  bring  back  the  cloistered  families  to  their  original  fervor. 
To  this  end,  she  often  dictated,  while  in  ecstasy,  letters  addressed  to 
various  regular  prelates,  which  were  written  by  the  nuns  present,  but  were 
not  sent  to  their  destination.  The  visions  she  had  of  the  souls  of  Religious 
falling  down  like  lightning  into  hell,  condemned  to  the  most  horrible 
torments  for  their  inobservant  life,  were  the  strongest  motives  to  en 
kindle  her  zeal  in  favor  of  religious  observance.  Having  once  heard  of 
some  friars  who  boasted  of  observing  poverty  more  than  others  (as  they 
were  scantily  provided  for  by  the  community),  and  of  trying  to  help 
support  themselves  by  appearing  lowly  dressed,  which  would  not  have 
happened  if  the  Religion  had  provided  for  them,  the  Saint,  with  sighs 
and  weeping,  thus  exclaimed :  "  O  blindness  of  the  creatures  !  O  Religious 
state  so  little  known  !  O  great  misery,  that  they  try  to  cover  the  very 
evil  with  what  is  really  good,  to  the  loss  of  many  souls!  These  de 
ceived  ones  think  that  they  will  find  the  merit  of  their  works,  but  will 
find  instead  their  eternal  perdition,  as  the  inconveniences  of  poverty 
will  have  been  the  effect  of  their  own  self-love. ' '  In  regard  to  this  point, 
she  used  to  say  that  the  salvation  of  the  observant  Religious  who  is 
provided  for  by  the  Religion  in  all  needs,  is  almost  assured ;  and,  on  the 
contrary,  that  of  the  Religious  who  is  voluntarily  a  property-holder, 


though  dressing  poorly,  is  almost  despaired  of;  for,  if  the  latter  had  not  the 
disposition  to  deprive  himself  of  everything,  there  will  be  no  heaven  for 
him.  About  this  most  important  subject  of  life  in  common  for  all  Relig 
ious,  she  thus  expressed  herself:  u  I  cannot  see  nor  understand  why  those 
Religious,  who  by  the  three  solemn  vows  dedicated  themselves  to  God, 
do  not  keep  community  life,  but  try  by  holding  property  to  alter  so 
beautiful  an  order  of  perfect  life.  O  accursed  property  !  which  carries 
with  it  so  many  pretexts  and  inventions  by  which  it  often  makes  a  thing 
appear  as  virtue  which  is  nothing  but  vice  and  defect."  And  again  :  "I 
do  not  understand  how  Religious  can  with  good  conscience  have  par 
ticular  revenues,  and  how  the  offices  of  the  monastery  must  be  kept  with 
particular  incomes  and  works,  so  that  it  ordinarily  happens  that  Re 
ligious  are  more  attached  to  the  things  of  the  world  than  seculars  are. 
O  my  Jesus,  make  me  suffer  any  pain  that  so  many  Brides  consecrated  to 
Thee  may  return  to  observe  life  in  common,  as  Thou  makest  me  see  to 
my  great  sorrow  many  of  those  unhappy  ones  descending  into  hell." 

She  also  understood  ecstatically  how  displeasing  to  the  Lord  those 
Religious  were  who  occupy  themselves  in  worldly  pursuits,  upon  which 
she  said,  with  great  emphasis,  the  following  words  :  "  May  it  please  God 
that  this  trafficking  in  exterior  things  in  which  the  Bride  of  Jesus 
indulges,  and  which  takes  from  her  the  time  and  the  opportunity  of 
doing  her  true  traffic  with  God — may  it  please  God  that  in  the  end  they 
do  not  take  from  her  the  beatific  vision  !  "  Which  threat  was  uttered  by 
her  with  so  great  energy  that  she  frightened  those  who  heard  her.  In 
another  ecstasy,  she  understood  the  enormous  offense  which  is  offered  to 
God  by  those  Religious  who,  not  being  satisfied  with  being  themselves 
inobservant,  prevent  others  also  from  fulfilling  their  duty;  and,  on  the 
contrary,  she  understood  how  much  pleasure  and  glory  is  given  to  God 
by  those  who,  living  in  a  Religion  of  lax  observance,  try,  as  far  as  they  can, 
though  meeting  with  obstacles,  to  correspond  to  the  true  spirit  of  their 
Order,  thus  becoming  a  source  at  once  of  good  example  and  of  reproach 
to  their  companions.  Feeling  compassion  for  these,  she  said :  "  Oh  !  how 
grieved  I  am  at  not  being  able,  by  shedding  my  own  blood,  to  obtain 
that  those  enlightened  souls  dwelling  in  a  lax  Religion  may  enjoy  the 
happiness  and  opportunity  I  enjoy,  by  corresponding  to  the  desire  and 
interior  stimulus  they  feel."  Then,  thinking  of  herself,  she  added  :  u  Oh ! 
how  better  than  myself  they  would  serve  God  !  Oh  !  much  more  grateful 
for  such  a  gift  they  would  be  if  they  would  find  themselves  where  I  am." 
Moreover,  reflecting  on  the  evil  conduct  of  those  nuns  who,  to  please 
wordly  creatures,  perform  works  of  fashion  and  make  up  attractive  orna 
ments,  she  exclaimed,  in  like  words  of  sorrow :  "Alas !  tl-at  those 
eyes  that  ought  yet  to  be  fixed  on  Christ  Crucified  and  His  divine  beauty 
should  busy  themselves  so  unhappily  to  look  upon  things  vain  and 
miserable,  and  that  those  hands  consecrated  to  God  should  be  employed  in 
making  snares  to  catch  souls  and  send  them  to  hell !  O  extreme  misery ! 
O  miserable  and  ever- to-be-deplored  unhappiness  ! "  One  day  whilst  she 
was  looking  with  great  attention  at  some  flowers  wrought  with  great 
skill  by  some  nuns,  she  was  asked  by  some  of  them  why  she  looked  at 
them  so  attentively.  And  she  answered  :  "  O  my  sisters,  I  think  and 
consider  that  God  knows  whether  the  nun  who  made  these  flowers  knew 

In  obedience  to  her  confessor,  she  revives  and  receives  new 
strength  "  in  e/\tremis  "  (  page  284 ) . 


how  to  take  as  much  time  to  enter  into  herself  and  think  of  the  stale  of 
her  soul  and  her  obligation  towards  God,  as  she  knew  how  to  take  in 
doing  this  kind  of  work."  And  she  added  :  "  O  confusion  of  ours  !  God 
knows  whether  I,  too,  have  employed  my  attention  in  making  acts  of 
love  of  God  as  she  employed  her  talent  in  flower-making.  O  nobility  of 
the  soul,  especially  of  the  religious  soul,  that  is  under  such  an  obligation 
of  serving  God,  in  what  art  thou  wasting  thyself?  O  unhappy  Religious, 
so  blind  concerning  the  dignity  of  their  state  !  "  She  gave  vent  to  many 
other  exclamations  like  these  when  considering  the  relaxation  of  the 
Religious.  It  was  from  the  expression  of  these  sentiments  that  the  nuns 
gathered  wonderful  evidence  of  religious  perfection  which  the  Saint 
furnished  upon  every  opportune  occasion,  and  of  which  we  shall  give  an 
abridgment  of  no  little  interest  in  the  Works.  Here  we  shall  relate  the 
two  following  ecstasies  as  appertaining  proximately  to  the  subject  we 
treat  of. 

One  evening,  the  spirit  of  Mary  Magdalen  being  absorbed  in  a 
celestial  ecstasy,  she  heard  the  Most  Holy  Trinity  calling  her  thus : 
* (  Come,  my  chosen  one,  take  three  victims  and  consecrate  them  to  us, 
the  Three  Divine  Persons,  though  they  may  be  already  consecrated." 
Not  understanding  what  these  three  victims  were,  whether  they  were 
the  three  powers  of  the  soul  or  something  else,  three  souls  were  par 
ticularly  named  to  her,  whom  God  had  chosen  for  the  Religion;  and 
she  was  given  to  understand  that  these  would  not  be  the  last  ones,  but 
that  before  her  death  she  was  to  consecrate  to  the  Most  Holy  Trinity 
six  others  who  were  not  yet  in  the  Religion  ;  and  that,  of  these  nine  souls, 
she  was  to  consecrate  three  to  the  Father,  three  to  the  Word,  and  three 
to  the  Holy  Ghost.  Hence,  having  understood  the  will  of  God,  she  with 
drew  to  a  secluded  place  with  the  superioress,  another  mother,  and  the 
three  souls  above  mentioned,  two  of  whom  were  Religious  already 
professed,  and  the  other  a  girl  on  trial,  who  wished  very  much  to  become 
a  nun.  These,  then,  were  the  three  victims  to  be  consecrated  to  the 
Three  Divine  Persons,  one  for  each,  as  it  was  even  more  clearly  shown  to 
her  afterwards.  Turning  to  them,  therefore,  whilst  still  in  ecstasy,  she 
said  to  them  :  "Are  you  satisfied,  O  sisters  of  mine,  that  I  should  conse 
crate  you  to  the  Most  Holy  Trinity?  "  Upon  all  of  them  answering  in 
the  affirmative,  she  also  asked  them  whether  they  were  ready  to  submit 
in  everything  to  the  Divine  Will;  to  which,  having  received  an  affirma 
tive  reply,  she  continued,  saying  to  them  :  u  This  shows  the  submission 
you  must  make  of  yourselves  to  the  Divine  Will,  being  ready  to  suffer 
everything  interior  and  exterior  to  fulfill  God's  Will."  Then,  kneeling 
down,  she  said:  "Now  adore  the  unity  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity,  for 
yourselves  and  for  all  those  who  fail  to  do  so."  Then  arising,  with 
hands  and  eyes  lifted  up  to  heaven,  she  added:  "Be  always  right  and 
sincere  in  every  action  and  work,  keeping  your  eyes  fixed  on  God." 
Kneeling  again,  she  extended  her  arms,  saying  :  " Always  have  a  great 
desire  for  your  perfection  and  that  of  the  Religion,  and  to  be  kept  like 
the  Word  on  the  cross — namely,  lowly  and  despised — and  consider  your 
selves  such."  Then  she  crossed  her  hands  on  her  breast,  pronouncing 
with  force  these  words  :  "Embrace,  O  sisters,  all  creatures  in  a  bond  of 
charity  and  love,  loving  every  one  of  them  always  in  the  bond  of  love 

254  THE   LIFE    AND   WORKS  OF 

and  charity."  Here  she  told  them  to  say  the  Confiteor,  and  made  the 
two  who  had  the  veil  renew  their  profession,  and  the  girl  the  resolution 
to  take  the  religious  habit.  She  then  took  the  hands  of  one  of  the  pro 
fessed  nuns  and  offered  her  to  the  Most  Holy  Trinity,  and  particularly  to 
the  Person  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  not  with  the  sound  of  her  voice,  but  with 
her  eyes  fixed  on  heaven,  remaining  entranced  for  some  time ;  then  she 
made  it  known  to  be  God's  will  that  that  sister  should  promise  to  be 
always  zealous  as  to  herself  and  others  for  sublime  purity  of  heart  and 
holy  simplicity,  trying  with  all  her  power  always  to  promote  in  the  Re 
ligion  the  perfect  observance  of  this  holy  vow  of  poverty,  and  she 
exhorted  her  to  take  for  this  end,  as  a  patron,  St.  John  the  Evangelist.  She 
took  the  second  nun  likewise  by  the  hand,  offering  her  to  the  Most  Holy 
Trinity,  and  more  particularly  to  the  Person  of  the  Word  Incarnate,  and 
remaining,  as  before,  a  little  while  without  speaking,  she  told  her  it  was 
the  will  of  God  that  she  should  promise  to  have  always  a  great  zeal  for 
the  perfect  observance,  by  herself  and  all  her  companions,  of  the  vow  of 
poverty  and  of  true  poverty  of  spirit,  exhorting  her  to  take  for  this  St. 
Paul  the  Apostle,  as  a  patron.  The  same  thing  she  did  with  the  girl, 
offering  her  to  the  Eternal  Father,  and  she  told  her  that  God  expected 
from  her  that  she  should  reduce  to  effect  the  inspiration  she  had  to 
become  a  nun ;  which  having  done,  she  should  attend  with  the  greatest 
care  to  the  practice  of  obedience  and  self-abnegation,  and  try  with  equal 
zeal  to  make  her  companions  do  the  same,  taking  for  a  helper  the  seraphic 
father,  St.  Francis.  The  offering  up  of  these  three  creatures  and  their 
correspondence  being  completed,  it  seemed  to  her  as  if  each  of  the  Divine 
Persons  espoused  the  one  that  had  been  respectively  consecrated  to  Him, 
drawing  her  spirit  to  Himself  in  a  manner  altogether  peculiar  ;  and  here 
ended  the  first  ecstasy. 

There  was  on  probation  in  her  monastery  a  girl  by  the  name  of  Cath 
erine,  who  had  entered  there  with  marked  vocation,  but,  on  the  other  hand, 
she  was  troubled  by  our  three  capital  enemies,  which  wished  to  draw  her 
away  from  the  divine  call.  After  having  several  times  assisted  and  com 
forted  her,  one  evening  Mary  Magdalen,  whilst  speaking  with  her,  was 
rapt  in  ecstasy,  and,  turning  upon  her  a  look  of  encouragement,  told  her 
with  a  firm  voice  not  to  fear  any  assault,  but  to  fight  with  great  strength 
and  to  be  sure  that  God  wanted  her  to  IDC  a  nun  in  that  monastery,  and 
that  no  sooner  would  she  put  on  its  habit  than  all  temptations  would 
cease  and  an  ineffable  peace  would  fill  her  heart.  Having  made  this 
known,  the  holy  mother  took  the  girl  with  her  to  the  choir,  where 
ascending,  as  usual,  the  entablature  and  taking  therefrom  the  often- 
mentioned  Crucifix,  she  gave  it  to  her,  and  then  both  passed  over  to  the 
oratory  of  the  novices.  Here,  in  the  presence  of  the  prioress,  the  mis 
tress  of  novices,  and  another  mother,  she  consecrated  that  girl  also  to 
the  Most  Holy  Trinity,  and  particularly  to  the  Person  of  the  Word,  she 
entering  into  the  number  of  the  nine  offerings  above  mentioned.  In 
offering  her,  she  followed  this  order :  First,  she  asked  her  whether  she 
was  satisfied  that  such  a  consecration  should  be  made  of  her,  and  having 
received  an  affirmative  answer,  she  proceeded  to  ask  her  this  question  : 
"Dost  thou  choose  to  do  this  by  my  advice  ?  "  To  which  the  girl  replied  : 
"No  ;  but  simply  to  fulfill  the  will  of  God,  which  I  believe  is  found  in 


what  thou  now  desirest  to  do  with  me. "  Then  the  mother  made  the  girl 
go  through  a  brief  self-examination;  and,  having  said  the  Confiteor 
with  her,  she  offered  her  in  particular  to  the  Divine  Word — not  with 
words,  but  with  the  effervescence  of  her  heart,  as  she  had  done  with  the 
first  three.  After  this,  she  told  her  what  God  wanted  of  her,  and  assigned 
to  her,  as  a  patron,  the  glorious  St.  Ignatius  Loyola,  and  then  came  to 
herself  from  the  ecstasy.  A  few  weeks  having  elapsed,  the  same  girl 
received  the  nun's  habit  with  ineffable  consolation,  but  the  enemy  of 
mankind  the  same  evening  assailed  her  with  new  temptations  and 
stronger  suggestions.  But  the  holy  mother,  who  was  then  in  ecstasy,  ran 
to  encourage  her,  speaking  to  her  as  follows:  "I  bring  theegood  tidings, 
beloved  soul ;  hear  me  :  An  archangel,  beautiful  and  radiant,  came  with 
a  scythe  and  cut  off  all  the  thorns  by  which  thou  hast  been  pressed  from 
the  day  thou  madest  thy  first  covenant  with  God  until  now,  except  some 
little  ones  which  thou  hast  to  trample  upon,  that  they  may  not  grow  and 
pierce  thee.  The  thorns  are  the  passions ;  and,  when  these  show  them 
selves  at  the  window,  thou  must  fight  or  bind  them.  Thou  fightest  them 
by  doing  the  opposite  of  what  they  wish ;  thou  bindest  them  by  the 
recollection  of  thy  obligations  towards  God.  Place  two  guards  over 
thyself;  one  at  the  door  of  thy  soul  and  the  other  at  the  door  of  thy 
heart ;  visit  them  often  and  keep  them  watching  that  nothing  may  enter 
there  which  may  not  be  able  to  stand  before  the  divine  purity.  Give 
death  to  self  and  bury  thy  own  opinion  and  understanding,  and  thus 
shall  thou  enjoy  the  peace  of  which  I  spoke  to  thee.  If  I  had  all  the 
angelic  and  all  the  human  tongues,  I  would  still  be  unable  to  tell  all  the 
glory  thou  hast  given  to  God,  or  rather  God  has  taken  to  Himself  out  of 
the  oblation  thou  hast  made  of  thyself  to  Him.  And  if  thou  wishes!  to 
walk  towards  that  perfection  to  which  He  calls  thee,  thou  must  not  think 
of  any  impossibility  in  interior  or  exterior  works,  but  have  always  a 
lively  faith  and  a  firm  confidence  in  our  loving  and  great  God  and  in  holy 
obedience.  As  the  Divine  Spouse  chooses  thee  for  the  highest  per 
fection,  see  that  all  thoughts,  words,  and  works  are  according  to  the 
model  He  left  us  in  His  humanity.  Jesus  takes  much  delight  in  the 
Brides  that  are  dear  to  Him,  wishing  through  them  to  make  the  places 
where  they  dwell  perfect."  This  is  what  was  spoken  by  the  ecstatic 
Mary  Magdalen  on  the  above  occasion,  but  she  said  more,  carrying  into 
the  soul  of  the  newly-made  bride  perfect  calm  and  ample  understanding 
of  the  worth  of  the  evangelical  counsels. 

Among  the  things  mentioned  in  this  chapter,  the  attention  of  a 
Religious  is  called,  above  all,  to  what  concerns  community  life,  viz.,  that 
mode  of  life  which,  destroying  totally  the  deliberative  faculty  about  any 
subject  whatsoever,  embodies  in  one  all  the  products  of  the  house  and 
those  of  the  individual,  so  that,  providing  for  all,  it  is  lawful  to  none  to 
choose  or  appropriate  or  dispose  at  will  of  anything.  Upon  this  point 
I  will  make  but  two  reflections,  for  the  regulars,  more  than  for  the  infor 
mation  of  others,  as  the  former  stand  in  greater  need  of  the  divine  grace 
to  elevate  them  to  thoughts  and  affections  more  worthy  of  their  vocation. 
I  say,  then,  first,  that  the  Religious  more  fervent  and  assiduous  at  prayer 
and  in  the  observance  of  their  duties,  have  also  a  great  desire  for  life  in 
common,  and  also  endeavor  to  introduce  it  where  it  is  not  practiced.  If 

256  THE    LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 

their  efforts  are  often  useless,  the  cause  of  it  is  in  the  number  of  the  im 
perfect,  which  ordinarily  is  greater  and  more  powerful,  just  as  the  zeal  of 
the  bishops  is  seldom  sufficient  to  put  the  nuns  under  this  system,  which 
is  so  essential  to  the  vow  of  poverty,  and  consequently  the  cause  of  so 
much  peace  and  profit  to  those  communities  which  have  adopted  it; 
just  as,  I  will  also  say,  even  the  wish  of  the  Sovereign  Pontiffs  that  all 
regular  Congregations  would  submit  to  the  community  life  has  remained 
almost  wholly  inefficacious,  for  the  reason  which  has  been  advanced  that 
the  house  had  not  sufficient  income  to  live  the  life  in  common.  From 
which  I  draw  my  second  reflection,  asserting  that  such  a  pretext,  unless 
we  call  it  manifestly  erroneous,  cannot  be  ascribed  to  want  of  spirit, 
to  say  the  least,  because,  if  in  private  life  the  individual  by  his  industry 
provides  for  all  his  needs,  by  doing  as  much  for  the  life  in  common  the 
same  results  would  be  obtained  for  all  and  for  each  in  particular.  The 
concurrence  of  many  causes  to  one  end  will  even  give  more  impetus  to 
the  whole — so  that  it  may  be  shared  by  each  one — than  if  each  cause 
worked  separately  and  for  the  individual  benefit.  Hence  we  must  con 
clude  that  a  remnant  of  wordly  love  and  of  self-love  is  the  source  by 
which  some  religious  is  obstinately  opposed  to  life  in  common,  and  that 
he  alone  shall  be  able  to  justify  himself  who,  having  embraced  the  system 
of  private  life,  does  not  persist  in  it  because  attached  to  it,  or  would  not 
care  whether  the  efforts  of  those  who  are  more  zealous  and  virtuous 
would  meet  with  a  happy  result  or  not ;  but  because  it  is  not  in  his  power 
to  do  otherwise. 








|T  is  the  heroism  of  virtue  so  to  elevate  one's  self  above  the 
sorrows  of  nature  as  to  aspire,  with  joy  and  longing  desire, 
to  nothing  but  the  desolations  and  the  torments  of  Calvary, 
whilst  it  is  also  lawful  and  proper  for  just  souls  to  desire  the 
enjoyment,  at  times,  of  the  delights  of  Thabor.  Mary  Mag 
dalen  De-Pazzi  possessed  this  virtue  in  so  heroic  a  degree 
that  she  seemed  never  to  have  suffered  enough ;  and  in  the 
year  1590,  viz.,  at  the  end  of  the  five  years  of  her  trial,  she 
gave  up  to  God  all  but  spiritual  taste,  making  with  Him  an  agreement, 
which  she  then  expressed  in  ecstasy  and  afterwards  confirmed  several 
times  out  of  ecstasy.  To  a  sister  who  offered  her  congratulations  to  the 
Saint  upDn  the  glorious  end  of  her  combats,  and  the  promise  God  had  made 
her  that 'she  would  enjoy  in  return  His  Divine  Presence,  she  answered : 
*  *  It  will  be  so  truly,  but  without  any  sweetness ;  it  will  only  be  for  comfort 
and  strength  in  trials;"  thinking  of  this  relinquishment  of  all  sweet 
ness.  Being  also  asked  by  the  same  nun  about  the  motive  of  so  sublime 
an  act,  the  Saint  manifested  it  in  the  following  words  :  "  Wishing  to  be 
able  to  give  and  offer  to  God  something,  and  to  remain  for  the  love  of 
Him  without  anything,  and  finding  that  I  had  nothing,  as  by  the  vows 
of  holy  Religion  I  have  renounced  not  only  every  created  thing  outside 
of  myself,  but  even  my  own  self  and  my  own  will,  I  gave  up  to  Him 
what  he  had  given  me,  having  nothing  else  to  give  Him."  It  happened, 
•therefore,  that  from  the  year  1590,  though  God  deprived  her  not  of  the 
ecstasies,  yet,  as  she  was  wont  to  say,  these  were  almost  always  without 
any  sensibility  of  spiritual  taste,  and  rather  intended  for  the  strengthening 
of  her  soul  and  its  powers.  Hence,  one  day  whilst  out  of  her  senses  and 
feeling  her  heart  inundated  with  an  extraordinary  delight,  she  uttered 
these  words  in  a  tone  of  lamentation  :  "Ah  !  my  God,  why  dost  Thou 
break  the  agreement  Thou  madest  with  me  when  I  gave  up  all  de 
lights  for  Thy  love?  n  Thus,  except  during  these  ecstasies,  desolation 
and  aridity  prevailed  in  her  spirit,  so  that  frequently,  to  excite  herself  to 
devotion,  she  was  compelled  to  have  recourse  to  those  means  of  which 

258  THE    LIFE    AND   WORKS   OF 

the  beginners  in  God's  service  stand  in  need.  Sometimes  she  was  wont 
to  say  that  in  thinking  of  God  she  became  like  a  piece  of  wood  or  stone, 
without  any  feeling.  Her  own  humility  made  this  aridity  even  more 
painful,  for,  though  it  was  a  matter  of  her  own  choice,  she  feared  lest  it 
might  be  the  consequence  of  her  own  fault ;  and,  feeling  so  much  repug 
nance  to  the  exercises  of  piety,  it  seemed  to  her  as  if  she  did  not  execute 
them  with  the  necessary  promptness.  Of  this  she  often  accused  herself, 
to  a  companion,  in  these  words:  "  O  sister,  it  is  very  hard,  and  a  soul 
must  have  really  tasted  of  God  and  be  truly  anxious  to  suffer,  in  order 
that  she  may  be  able  to  work,  in  the  midst  of  so  much  aridity  of  spirit, 
as  if  she  abundantly  tasted  of  God."  Thus  she  spoke  to  accuse  herself, 
far  from  realizing  that  she  was  the  very  person  who  possessed  so  great  a 
perfection.  Hence  the  exercises  of  devotion,  which  she  never  omitted, 
no  matter  how  much  weariness  they  caused  her,  were  so  perfectly  and 
evidently  virtuous,  on  account  of  the  purity  of  their  beginning,  prog 
ress,  and  close,  that  they  brought  her  to  such  a  degree  of  sanctity  as  to 
cause  the  most  manifest  signs  and  the  most  wonderful  effects  to  be 
visible  in  her  own  person.  From  her  eyes,  words,  gestures,  and  every 
movement  of  her  person,  it  appeared  that  she  was  a  Saint,  and  every 
body  was  compelled  to  adjudge  her  a  Saint  who  saw  her,  though  not 
knowing  who  she  was. 

We  have  already  seen  how  she  infused  into  the  souls  of  others  hatred 
of  vice,  love  of  virtue,  comfort,  encouragement,  by  a  word  or  a  look, 
and  sometimes  by  her  own  presence  alone.  All  her  companions  of  the 
monastery  were  able  to  testify  to  having  experienced  in  themselves  most 
consoling  effects  by  virtue  of  their  holy  sister;  and  this  was  particularly 
the  case  of  those  who  had  been  under  her  direction,  some  of  whom 
affirmed  that,  being  molested  by  great  temptations,  these  would  cease  by 
their  simply  approaching  her,  or  touching  her  habit,  or  just  remaining 
where  she  was,  or  looking  at  her;  or,  if  away  in  another  place,  by  simply 
turning  their  thoughts  to  her,  they  felt  sweetness  and  peace  descending  into 
their  hearts.  As  true  virtue  never  compromises  with  vice,  she  wrought 
in  the  souls  of  those  who  were  stained  with  it  salutary  effects  of  con 
fusion,  shame,  and  sadness.  Among  many  others  was  the  case  of 
a  Florentine  youth,  of  noble  family  but  licentious  life,  who,  having 
gone  to  the  monastery  to  visit  a  sister  of  his,  who  was  a  novice  there, 
no  sooner  did  she  come  to  the  grates,  accompanied  by  her  mistress, 
Mary  Magdalen  De-Pazzi,  than  without  a  word  or  syllable  of  courtesy  to 
one  or  the  other,  he  immediately  left.  On  the  day  following,  the 
mother  of  the  novice  came  to  apologize  for  the  incivility  of  her  son, 
relating  how  he  was  so  terrified  and  confused  at  the  sight  of  the  Saint 
that  he  could  not  endure  it  for  a  single  minute.  Even  brute  animals 
seemed  to  feel  some  depression  and  restraint  in  her  presence.  Once,  a 
wild-goat  that  had  been  presented  to  the  monastery  began  to  run  here 
and  there,  so  that  it  was  not  possible  for  the  nuns  to  secure  it.  It 
entered  the  work-hall,  where,  on  account  of  its  restlessness,  it  threw 
those  who  were  present  into  great  excitement  and  fear  lest  it  might  do 
some  damage.  Soon  afterwards  Mary  Magdalen  came  in,  and,  approach 
ing  it,  it  immediately  submitted  to  her,  becoming  meek  and  tractable, 
and  allowing  itself  to  be  seized  and  led  to  where  the  nuns  wanted  it. 


Another  time,  whilst  the  nuns  were  at  dinner,  by  an  oversight  of  the 
jani tress  a  mastiff  got  into  the  monastery,  striking  terror  into  everyone 
by  its  ferocious,  mien.  Mary  Magdalen  seeing  the  anguish  of  the  sisters, 
who  did  not  know  how  to  chase  it  away,  got  up  from  the  table,  and, 
calling  the  dog  (which  promptly  obeyed)  to  herself,  took  it  by  one  ear, 
and  the  dog,  like  a  little  lamb,  permitted  her  to  lead  it  to  the  door  of  the 
cloister,  whence  she  sent  it  peaceably  away. 

We  have  already  remarked  that,  besides  her  presence,  the  things  that 
had  been  used  by  her  communicated  some  of  the  superhuman  virtue  that 
was  in  her.  Her  nuns  attested  that  they  derived  some  benefit  both  for 
the  good  of  their  souls  and  for  the  health  of  their  bodies,  either  by  gird 
ing  themselves  with  her  cord,  or  by  carrying  her  hair-cloth,  or  by  touch 
ing  the  habit  she  was  wearing.  '  On  Good  Friday  of  the  year  1592,  Sister 
Mary  Magdalen  De-Mori,  a  nun  in  the  same  monastery,  was  much 
troubled  by  pains  of  gout  and  sciatica,  to  which  she  had  been  for  a  long 
time  subject.  Whilst  suffering  such  severe  pains,  au  inner  voice  was 
thus  encouraging  her:  "If  thou  wilt  recover,  get  somebody  to  carry 
thee  before  the  mother,  Mary  Magdalen."  Hence,  having  conceived 
some  confidence  in  this  inspiration,  with  the  permission  of  the  supe 
rioress,  she  caused  herself  to  be  carried  to  the  place  where  the  Saint 
was,  and  found  her  rapt  in  ecstatic  contemplation.  With  the  assistance 
of  two  sisters  she  approached  her  and  touched  her  with  the  affected  side, 
and  this  was  enough  for  God  to  perform  a  miracle  by  means  of  His 
beloved  servant.  The  patient  felt  that  her  pains  had  immediately  ceased, 
and  without  any  help  she  returned  to  her  cell.  Another  nun  was 
tormented  by  such  excessive  pains  in  the  head  that  she  felt  as  if  her 
brains  were  bursting  out.  She  went  to  the  bed  of  the  Saint,  who  then 
was  seriously  ill;  and,  having  rested  her  head  with  great  confidence  on 
her  shoulder,  she  felt  instantly  that  all  pains  were  gone.  Some  nuns 
also  remarked  that  when  the  Saint  was  working  in  the  kitchen,  her 
hands  seemed  to  possess  the  virtue  of  increasing  the  things ;  as,  with  less 
quantity  than  that  assigned  to  anybody  else,  she  succeeded  in  making 
larger  and  more  abundant  dishes;  hence,  a  lay-sister  in  particular, 
whenever  she  noticed  that  the  provision  was  insufficient  for  the  com 
munity,  recommended  herself  to  Mary  Magdalen,  who  encouraged  her  to 
have  faith ;  which  the  lay-sister  trying  to  do,  she  confessed  that  thereby 
she  herself  saw  several  times  that  the  things  were  wonderfully  multi 
plied,  so  that  there  was  something  left  after  she  had  given  to  all  an 
abundant  portion.  These  things  wrought  by  Mary  Magdalen  during 
her  lifetime,  and  which  stand  as  a  proof  of  her  eminent  sanctity,  become 
accessories  to  the  following  prodigies,  which,  by  their  notable  impor 
tance  and  on  account  of  their  being  recognized  and  approved  by  the 
Holy  Church,  deserve  that  we  should  believe  them  to  be  more  than 

HEALS  HER. — In  the  year  1591,  Sister  Maria  Benigna  Orlandini  was  in 
the  same  monastery  sick  with  such  a  disease  that  the  physicians  judged 
it  to  be  leprosy  and  wholly  incurable,  as  evidenced  by  the  inutility  of 
all  remedies  applied.  Discouraged  by  so  obstinate  and  incurable  a  dis 
ease,  this  nun  had  recourse  to  the  holy  mother,  begging  of  her  to  obtain 

260  THE    LIFE   AND  WORKS  OF 

her  recovery  from  Jesus.  The  Saint  promised  her  to  do  what  she  wished, 
and  on  the  morning  of  St.  Peter  the  Martyr,  both  having  received  Holy 
Communion,  Mary  Magdalen  a  few  moments  afterwards  was  raised  into 
ecstasy.  Thus  ecstatic,  she  went  to  the  infirmary,  where,  presenting 
herself  at  the  bedside  of  the  patient,  cheerful  in  countenance  and  ex 
tremely  sweet  in  the  expression  of  the  salutation  of  peace,  she  removed 
the  veils  from  the  head  of  the  sister,  and  with  her  own  tongue  began  to 
lick  her  head,  ears,  and  neck,  commanding  her  at  the  same  time  iiot  to 
speak  to  anybody  in  the  least  about  this  fact,  but  simply  to  trust  in  God 
that  she  would  get  cured.  It  happened  that  after  the  lapse  of  a  few  days, 
the  sick  nun  found  herself  cured  and  cleansed  entirely  from  that  pesti 
lential  sickness. 

IMMEDIATE  CURE  OF  THE  SAM& — In  the  same  year,  1591,  Sister 
Cherubina  Rabatti,  already  mentioned,  for  a  similar  reason  Wag  greatly 
tormented  by  a  sore  which  was  eating  through  trie  back  part  of  her  head. 
Now  it  happened  that,  on  the  morning  of  the  i3th  of  December,  whilst 
the  nuns  were  receiving  Holy  Communion,  the  Saint,  being  in  ecstasy, 
by  divine  disposition,  did  not  approach  the  holy  table ;  hence  the  con 
fessor,  having  to  carry  Holy  Communion  to  the  sick  ones,  told  her  to  go 
for  it  to  the  infirmary,  which  she  did,  and  there  having  received  Com 
munion  was  again  rapt  in  ecstasy.     During  this,  she  approached  Sister 
Cherubina,  and  thus  spoke  to  her :  "  Sister,  Unite  with  me  in  asking  thy 
cure  of  the  Lord  God."     And  both  having  prayed  a  little  while,  Mary 
Magdalen  made  the  sign  of  the  cross  three  times  over  the  head  of  the 
patient,  and  instantly  the  sore  was  healed,  leaving  her  wholly  free  from 
the  fever  and  the  pains  which  had  afflicted  her. 

PERFECT  HEALTH.— The  same  Sister  Cherubina  Rabatti  the  following 
year,   1592,  on  account  of  two  sores,  was   confined   to  her  bed   with 
such  violent  fever  and  spasms  e  that  by  the  advice  of  the  physicians, 
who  declared  all  hope  gone,  Extreme  Unction  was  administered  to  her. 
In  the  meantime,  Mary  Magdalen,  the  better  to  assist  this  patient,  and  in 
order  to  be  certainly  present  at  her  death  which  was  thought  to  be  very 
near,  had  her  straw-bed  carried  near  the  room  of  the  sick  nun.     In  this 
condition  of  things,  without  a  ray  of  hope,  humanly  speaking,  a  com 
forting  voice  thus  spoke  to  the  heart  of  Sister  Cherubina  :  "  If  thou  wilt 
recover,  enter  the  bed  of  Sister  Mary  Magdalen."     To  which  inspiration 
willingly  listening  with  great  confidence,  by  the  permission  and  in  the 
presence  of  the  mother  prioress,  she  caused  herself  to  be  carried  from  the 
infirmary  to  the  straw-bed  of  the  Saint;  and  lo !  what  a  prodigy!  no 
sooner  was  she  laid  down  upon  it  than  she  felt  better,  nay,  cured  ;  so  that 
in  about  one-eighth  of  an  hour  she  went  by  herself  to  her  own  bed,  more 
out  of  caution  than  anything.else,  and  arose  the  following  morning  with 
her  ^  usual  strength  and  went  with  the  nuns  to  recite  the  Office  in  the 
choir,  and  then  followed  all  the  other  exercises  of  the  monastery. 

A  SERIOUS  SORE.— Sister  Maria  Caterina  Chelli,  a  professed  nun  of  the 


same  monastery,  had  a  sore  on  the  right  arm  near  the  wrist.  With 
physicians  and  medicines  she  had  already  doctored  for  two  years,  with 
out  any  good  result;  nay,  she  was  getting  so  much  worse  that,  a  piece 
of  bone  being  extracted  from  the  sore,  the  physicians  said  that  either 
she  would  be  a  cripple  or  would  not  recover.  On  the  i5th  of  May, 
1595,  tne  Poor  sister  experiencing  in  her  sore  arm  persistent  and  most 
intense  pains,  presented  herself  suppliantly  to  the  prioress,  Sister  Vange- 
lista  del  Giocondo,  that  she  might  help  her  in  some  way  to  be  patient, 
as  all  remedies  appeared  to  be  useless.  The  prioress  by  divine  inspira 
tion  thus  answered  her:  "Sister,  go  to  Sister  Mary  Magdalen,  and 
recommend  thyself  to  her,  who  has  granted  favors  to  others  and  will 
also  grant  them  to  thee."  Sister  Maria  Caterina  went  without  delay  to 
the  Saint,  telling  her  first  how  she  had  been  sent  by  the  superioress,  then 
manifesting  the  reason,  and  making  her  request.  The  compassionate 
and  good  Mary  Magdalen  on  hearing  this  went  to  see  the  mother  prioress, 
and  took  her  with  the  patient  to  the  choir.  There,  the  three  kneeling 
before  the  altar  of  the  Blessed  Virgin,  Mary  Magdalen  took  hold  of  the 
sore  arm  of  the  afflicted  sister,  unswathed  it,  and  then  turning  to  the 
mother  prioress  thus  said  to  her:  "  Wilt  thou  that  I  take  out  the  lint 
from  the  sore?"  To  which  the  prioress  answered:  "  If  thou  hast  faith 
that  she  will  recover,  take  it  out."  Then  Sister  Mary  Magdalen 
having  premised  a  short  prayer,  took  out  the  lint,  and  bound  up  the 
arm  without  putting  anything  on  the  sore;  and  the  pain  immediately 
ceased.  In  a  few  days  the  sore  healed  without  any  medicines  being 
applied  to  it,  and  in  such  a  manner  that  Sister  Maria  Caterina  was 
cured  and  as  free  from  any  scar  as  if  she  had  never  had  a  sore  on  her  arm. 

262  THE   LIFE   AND   WORKS   OF 




|S  humility  is  greater  and  more  perfect  as  the  subject  possess 
ing  it  is  endowed  with  higher  virtue  and  talents,  it  must 
not  be  considered  improper  to  mention  in  the  last  place 
this  virtue  of  humility,  which  is  the  root  and  foundation  of 
the  spiritual  life.  The  profound  humility  of  the  heart  of 
Mary  Magdalen  cannot  be  better  shown  than  by  placing  it 
alongside  of  her  other  virtues,  which  all  help  to  manifest 
the  perfection  of  humility ;  and  much  would  be  detracted 
from  the  idea  that  should  be  conceived  of  her  humility,  unless  the  orna 
ments  of  her  noble  soul  had  been  previously  described.  After  the  sub 
limity  of  her  contemplations,  the  marvel  of  her  celestial  favors  and  privi 
leges,  the  perfection  of  so  many  virtues,  the  stupendous  miracles  wrought 
by  God  in  this  soul, — her  thinking  so  little  of  her  own  self,  the  low 
estimation  and  contempt  she  entertained  of  herself,  should  more  than 
convince  anyone  that  humility  was  so  deeply  and  profoundly  rooted  in 
her  heart  that  words  are  insufficient  to  explain  it. 

Notwithstanding  the  sanctity  of  her  soul,  she  nevertheless,  on  account 
of  the  pride  and  ingratitude  of  which  she  thought  herself  guilty,  regarded 
herself  hardly  better  than  the  devils.  She  deemed  herself  unworthy  to 
serve  God  purely — unworthy  that  anything  should  be  imposed  on  her  by 
obedience,  unworthy  to  dwell  in  that  sacred  college  of  virgins,  to  unite 
her  praise  with  that  of  the  Brides  of  Jesus,  and  to  converse  with  them, 
even  if  they  addressed  to  her  injurious  and  shameful  words.  She 
deemed  herself  unworthy  of  every  grace  and  gift  of  heaven;  also  of 
showing  charity  on  earth  to  her  neighbor,  and  of  partaking  of  the  goods 
of  all  the  faithful.  She  deemed  herself  unworthy  to  possess  poverty  of 
spirit  and  every  other  virtue ;  and  above  all  she  thought  herself  most 
unworthy  to  unite  with  her  Spouse  Jesus  in  the  Eucharistic  Banquet, 
unworthy  of  all  celestial  light  and  divine  inspiration,  and  rather  deserv 
ing  to  be  abandoned  by  God  and  left  in  the  darkness  of  her  sins  and 
errors.  Finally,  she  wondered  how  God  preserved  her  and  tolerated  her 
on  this  earth,  rather  than  hurled  her  down  into  the  flames  of  hell. 
Among  all  creatures  she  deemed  herself  alone  unworthy  of  the  care  and 
providence  of  God  and  of  the  love  He  bears  to  all  that  He  created ;  and 
she  abhorred  herself,  as  the  most  loathsome  and  blameworthy  thing  in 


existence.  These  were  not  flights  of  diseased  imagination,  but  thoughts 
and  sentiments  of  deep  conviction,  to  the  practice  of  which  she  dedicated 
herself  with  the  greatest  sincerity  and  frequency.  The  better  to  impress 
them  on  her  mind  and  practice  them,  she  had  written  down  a  collection 
of  them  for  daily  exercise,  divided  into  nine  distinct  acts,  because  of 
the  nine  Choirs  of  the  Angels : — 

1.  Thou  shalt  go  to  the  Choir  of  the  Holy  Angels,  and  shalt  beg  of 
them  that  they  offer  to  the  throne  of  the  Most  Holy  Trinity  the  Blood 
of  the  Incarnate  Word,  asking  of  them  true  humility  of  spirit ;  and  thou, 
O  my  soul,  shalt  humble  thyself  so  as  to  deem  thyself  similar  to  the 
demons,  by  thy  pride  and  ingratitude. 

2.  Thou  shalt  go  to  the  Choir  of  the  Archangels,  and  shalt  pray  to 
them,  as  above ;  and  thou,  O  soul,  thirsting  for  purity,  asking  it  of  them, 
shalt  humble  thyself  so  as  to  consider  thyself  unworthy  to  receive  the 
aureola  of  virginity  and  serve  God  purely. 

3.  Thou  shalt  go  to  the  Choir  of  the  Principalities,  and  shalt  ask  of 
them  that  they  offer  the  Blood  of  the  Incarnate  Word  to  the  Eternal 
Father;  and  begging  of  them  for  most  perfect  obedience  and  submission 
to  the  Divine  Will  and  to  all  creatures  for  the  love  of  the  Creator,  thou 
shalt  endeavor  to  attain  to  this  humiliation  that  thou  mayst  know  that 
thou  art  unworthy  that  anything  should  be  imposed  at  any  time  on  thee 
by  obedience,  and  that  thou  art  also  unworthy  to  be  counted  among 
the  number  of  the  truly  obedient. 

4.  Thou  shalt  go  to  the  Choir  of  the  Powers,  and  shalt  beg  them  to 
offer  the  Blood  of  the  Incarnate  Word,  as  above ;  and  thou,  O  soul,  made 
slave  by  thy  sensual  appetites,  shalt  ask  the  grace  of  being  able  to 
restrain  each  one  of  thy  sensual  appetites,  and  to  the  best  of  thy  ability 
thou  shalt  come  to  this  humiliation  that  thou  reputest  thyself  unworthy 
to  dwell  in  this  holy  college  and  unite  thy  praise  with  that  of  the 
Brides  of  Jesus. 

5.  Thou  shalt  go  to  the  Choir  of  the  Virtues,  begging  them,  as 
above;  and  thou,  my  soul,  devoid  of  every  virtue,  shalt  ask  of  them 
firmness,  stability,  and  constancy  in  doing  good,  and  thou  shalt  humble 
thyself  so  as  to  acknowledge  thyself  unworthy  of  every  grace  and  gift  of 
Heaven,  and  also  of  being  able,  while  on  earth,  to  help  thy  neighbor 
with  offices  of  charity,  and  to  partake  of  the  good  of  all  the  believers. 

6.  Thou  shalt  go  to  the  Choir  of  the  Dominations,  asking  them  to 
make  the  above  offering  ;  and  thou,  my  soul,  begging  of  them  a  perfect 
control  of  all  thy  interior  passions  and  earthly  affections,  shalt  humble 
thyself  interiorly,  acknowledging  thyself  unworthy  to  possess  humility  of 
spirit  and  every  other  virtue. 

7.  Thou  shalt  have  recourse  to  the  Thrones,  who  will  go  to  the 
loving  arms  of  the  Incarnate  Word,  and  there  shall  offer  thee ;  and  thou, 
my  soul,  shalt  lower  thyself  so  as  to  consider  thyself  most  unworthy,  as 
in  fact  thou  art,  of  the  union  which  thou  dost  so  often  enjoy  with  thy 
Spouse,  by  means  of  the  Most  Holy  Sacrament,  Who  with  so  much 
love  comes  to  sit  in  the  midst  of  thy  heart. 

8.  Thou  shalt  go  to  the  Choir  of  the  Cherubim,  and  they  shall  offer 
thee  before  the  most  pure  eyes  of  the  Word  Incarnate ;  and  thou,  uiy  soul, 
shalt  go  on  in  thy  humiliations,  asking  of  the  Cherubim  light  to  know  in. 

264  THE   LIFK   AND   WORKS   OF 

thyself  the  Divine  Will,  the  graces  thou  receives t  every  moment,  and 
how  ill  thou  dost  correspond  to  them,  deeming  thyself  unworthy  of  all 
light  and  heavenly  inspiration  and  of  being  preserved  by  the  Divine 
Mercy,  whilst  thou  deservest,  for  thy  ill-correspondence  to  the  divine 
light,  to  be  abandoned  by  God  and  left  in  darkness  and  error. 

9.  Thou  shalt  also  go  to  the  Choir  of  the  Seraphim,  that  they  may 
offer  thee  to  the  most  sweet,  most  pious,  and  most  loving  Heart  of  the 
Incarnate  Word ;  and  thou,  my  soul,  begging  of  them  the  purity  of  the 
divine  love,  and  that  thou  mayest  burn  in  those  flames  of  charity  wherein 
they  burn  everlastingly,  shalt  continue  thy  exercise  and  endeavor  to 
arrive  at  this  humiliation,  viz.,  to  acknowledge  thyself  unworthy  that 
God  should  have  till  now  preserved  and  tolerated  thee,  rather  than 
have  sunk  thee  down  into  the  flames  of  hell  for  the  coldness  and 
frozenness  of  thy  heart,  whilst  it  is  exposed  to  so  many  fires  of  divine 
charity.  Gathering  thyself  up  around  the  centre  of  thy  lowliness  and 
meanness,  thou  shalt  acknowledge  that  thou  alone  among  all  creatures 
art  unworthy  of  the  care  and  providence  of  God  and  of  the  love  He 
bears  His  creatures ;  and,  abhorring  thyself  as  a  thing  above  all  else 
loathsome  and  despicable,  thou  shalt  ask  for  grace  through  these 
most  pure  and  loving  spirits,  to  be,  as  was  Jesus,  purified  and  cleansed 
by  means  of  tribulation,  so  that  all  the  rtistiness  of  thy  faults  may  be 
taken  off  thy  soul,  that  it  may  be  no  longer  unworthy  of  that  most 
pure  love. 

Such  a  low  estimation  of  herself,  cultivated  by  these  and  other 
similar  acts,  so  manifested  itself  in  all  her  works  and  words  that  she 
astonished  very  much  everybody  that  knew  her,  as  they  found  it  impos 
sible  to  conceive  how  a  soul  so  favored  of  God  and  endowed  with  so 
much  light  and  virtue  could  entertain  so  vile  an  opinion  of  herself. 
Confessing  herself  constantly  to  be  the  most  abject  of  all  creatures,  in 
that  ecstasy  of  eight  days  during  which  God  showed  her  the  strength 
and  virtue  He  wished  to  communicate  to  her  against  the  devils  and  their 
temptations,  which  she  was  to  endure  pending  the  five  years  of  her  pro 
bation,  with  extraordinary  feeling,  she  broke  out  into  these  words  :  "Oh! 
my  confusion,  that,  being  the  lowest  and  vilest  creature  in  the  world, 
still  Thou  wishest  to  manifest  in  me  the  greatness  and  immensity 
of  the  treasures  of  Thy  liberality  and  mercy."  She  was  wont  to  call 
herself  God's  poor  little  one,  a  little  worm,  a  little  maggot  of  the  earth, 
and  similar  names  indicating  self-contempt.  Though  so  learned  and 
enlightened  in  things  divine,  yet  deeming  herself  the  most  ignorant,  she 
asked  the  advice  of  others,  be  they  superiors  to  her  or  not,  even  in  the 
least  things,  and  sometimes  she  asked  even  her  very  novices.  She  did 
not  trust  at  all  to  her  own  judgment,  and  whatever  she  was  doing 
seemed  most  imperfect  and  of  no  value  to  her;  hence,  sometimes  in 
doing  or  saying  anything,  she  addressed  this  question  to  others  :  "  Does 
it  seem  to  you  that  I  have  done  or  said  well  ?  For  the  love  of  God, 
tell  me  whether  I  have  committed  a  fault  in  that?"  Upon  which 
the  sisters  took  delight  in  pointing  out  to  her  some  faults  which 
in  truth  did  not  exist;  but  she,  believing  them  to  be  facts,  accused 
herself  of  them  as  guilty,  deeply  humbling  herself  and  asking  forgiveness 
for  them.  In  the  matter  of  spiritual  direction,  although  she  was  such  an 

Whilst  lying  dead  in  the  coffin,  she  turns  her  face  from  a 
lascivious  young  man  who  was  looking  at  her 

(page  290). 


ST.   MARY    MAGDAtEN    DE-PAZZL  265 

excellent  teacher,  even  though  the  thing  might  be  of  little  importance, 
she  recommended  herself  to  the  advice  of  others,  with  this  expression 
of  humility  :  "  Tell  me,  sister,  what  dost  thou  think  I  might  do  to  en 
lighten  this  soul?  "  In  manual  work,  in  which  also  she  was  very  pro 
ficient,  she  thought  that  others  were  always  doing  better  than  herself. 
She  exalted  as  so  many  Saints  all  her  companions  of  the  monastery,  and 
humbled  herself  as  contemptible  and  a  sinner.  She  was  seen  several 
times  kissing  the  ground  upon  which  her  sisters  had  stood.  She  extended 
her  praise  and  veneration  also  to  the  sisters  departed,  speaking  of  them 
in  a  manner  calculated  to  make  everybody  conceive  a  good  opinion  of 
them.  Whenever  a  fault  appeared  in  anyone,  she,  with  humble  and 
charitable  manner,  excused  it,  saying :  u  I  would  have  done  worse." 
And  this  was  the  reason  why  she  placed  herself  below  all  the  sinners  of 
the  world.  u  If  God  would  withdraw  His  hand  from  me,"  she  was  wont 
to  say,  l '  there  is  no  sin,  no  matter  how  grievous,  that  I  might  not  com 
mit."  Thus  she  deemed  each  little  fault  of  hers  as  an  enormous  one, 
thinking  that  anyone  else,  had  she  received  the  like  favors,  would  have 
corresponded  better  to  them.  In  the  enthusiasm  of  her  humility,  she 
called  herself  the  cause  of  all  the  faults  that  were  committed  in  the  mon 
astery,  and  also  of  all  the  sins  of  the  world.  In  an  ecstasy  during  which 
some  knowledge  of  the  sinner's  malice  was  imparted  to  her,  having  first 
bitterly  deplored  such  malice,  she  inveighed  against  herself  with  these 
reproachful  and  threatening  words  :  ( '  I  am  the  cause  of  every  evil ;  let 
justice,  therefore,  come  upon  me  and  mercy  upon  others."  Hence  sprang 
in  her  that  feeling  of  amazement  at  the  thought  that  God,  the  angels, 
and  the  Saints  endured  her  on  the  earth,  and  that  the  earth  did  not  open 
to  swallow  her  alive.  One  day  she  said  to  a  sister  :  "  What  wouldst  thou 
say,  sister,  if  thou  wouldst  now  see  the  earth  open  and  swallow  me?  " 
And  in  the  ecstasy  and  vision  she  had  of  the  pains  of  purgatory,  seeing 
those  suffering  s